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EFT Research Paper

Sports Confidence and Critical Incident Intensity After a Brief Application of Emotional Freedom Techniques

Study Explores How EFT can Increase Sport Related Performance Confidence in Women Volleyball Players

Citation: Church, D, & Downs, D. (2012). Sports confidence and critical incident intensity after a brief application of Emotional Freedom Techniques: A pilot study. The Sport Journal, 15, 2012. Click here to read Abstract and Full Paper http://goo.gl/jsksgW


Purpose: To determine whether a single session of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) could reduce the emotional impact of traumatic memories related to sports performance and lead to increased confidence levels in athletes.

Background: A relationship has been noted in other studies between sports performance and psychological factors such as confidence and anxiety levels. Critical incidents, which are experienced as traumatic memories, are associated with increased levels of psychological distress across a variety of symptom domains. Brief EFT sessions have been demonstrated to improve sports performance and reduce anxiety.

Methods: Female college athletes (N = 10) with traumatic memories were assessed on three self-reports and one objective measure (pulse rate). Subjective measures were the State Sport Confidence Inventory, Subjective Units of Distress (SUD), and the Critical Sport Incident Recall (CSIR) questionnaire, which measured both emotional and physical forms of distress. Subjects received a single 20-min EFT session. Baseline values were obtained, as well as pre-, post-, and 60-day follow-ups.

Results: Significant post-intervention improvements were found in SUD, for both emotional and physical components of CSIR, and for performance confidence levels (p = .001). The change in pulse rate was marginally significant (p = .087). All participant gains were maintained on follow-up.

Conclusions: EFT may increase sport confidence levels by reducing the emotional and physical distress associated with the recall of critical incidents.

Applications in Sport: A brief application of EFT employed immediately prior to competition may increase confidence and mediate anxiety

Editor’s Note

This study was designed not to explore the outcome of athletic performance as the result of EFT application but instead at how EFT might affect and athletes’ levels of confidence and distress, which in turn has an effect on performance outcomes. Measurements used included self-reported levels of both distress and confidence as well as physiological measurement of participant pulse rates. 10 university women volleyball players were selected to participate, with an average age of 19 years old. All study measurement scales/pulse were taken 30 days and 15 days prior to the single 20 minute EFT application, immediately after and 60 days later. This all occurred while the athletes participated in their season competition. The statistical analysis showed immediate positive effects of EFT on SUDs score, on emotional and physical experience score ratings and on sports confidence ratings. The pulse rate did not show significant reductions immediately after EFT but did show a significant reduction at follow-up, which raises interesting questions, though certainly not necessarily a causal relationship. Limitations of this study include a small number of participants and a lack of control group.