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Jennifer DeWolfe, T.M. Waliczek and J.M. Zajicek

Researchers wonder what it takes to improve athlete performance. Research has suggested that plants reduce anxiety, and reduced anxiety could, in turn, improve athletic performance. Research also shows that plants have psychological and restorative value such as improving coping mechanisms in human subjects as well as the potential to improve concentration and focus attention that could affect performance of athletes. The main objective of this research was to investigate the impact of greenery/landscaping on athletic performance and cognitive and somatic anxiety in track and field athletes. Four university track and field teams and 128 athletes participated in the study. Individual athlete performance and athletes' scores on the competitive state anxiety inventory-2 (CSAI-2) cognitive and somatic anxiety tests were collected from seven track meets that occurred during one spring competition season. Greenness/landscaping level was determined by Likert scale rating averages from professional horticulturists who individually rated each site. A regression analysis found that greenness level was a predictor (P = 0.000) of best performance by athletes. More of the athletes' best performance marks were at the track and field site that had the highest greenery rating, and many of the athletes' worst performance marks were achieved at the site that had the lowest greenery rating. Results also indicated that all athletes performed better at the more vegetated track and field site regardless of event and level of anxiety. All athletes performed similarly at each of the track and field sites regardless of ethnicity, gender, or grade classification. However, the overall average mean anxiety scores for all the athletes involved in this study were somewhat high in comparison with the instrument-normed scores for both the cognitive and somatic anxiety scales.