The Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 (CSAI-2), which was developed by Martens and colleagues in 1990, consists of 27-items that assess the intensity of cognitive anxiety, somatic anxiety, and self-confidence in sport.
How is the CSAI-2 useful for understanding sport performance
Before we delve any further into the CSAI-2, let’s briefly explore what cognitive anxiety, somatic anxiety and self-confidence are:
- Cognitive Anxiety – This is the athlete experiencing negative expectations and concerns about their performance. Let’s take a footballer who is about to take a penalty as as an example. They may be having negative thoughts such as “I can’t do this” or “I’m not good enough.” They may also have poor concentration, be irritable towards the referee and unable to make up their mind when selecting their target.
- Somatic Anxiety – This is the physiological manifestation of anxiety. For example, our footballers may experience an increase in heart rate, tension in the neck and shoulder muscles, butterflies in the stomach and clammy hands and feet.
- Self-confidence – This is an athlete’s belief in their ability to be successful. For example, the degree to which the footballer believes’s they will score the penalty kick.
Now that we know what those terms mean we can look at how to conduct the CSAI-2, how to score it and what to do with the data. We’ll also look at the inventory’s advantages and disadvantages.
How to conduct the CSAI-2
The athlete can complete the inventory on two separate occasions:
- Before or during practice.
- Before or during a competition.
To complete the CSAI-2, the athlete must read each statement on the inventory. For each statement, they must circle the number on the Likert scale from 1 to 4 of how they feel in that moment. The numbers 1 to 4 represent the following statements:
- Not at all
- Moderately so
- Very much so
They must not spend too much time considering any one statement, but rather be instinctive with their rating.
How to score the CSAI-2
To score the CSAI-2, each statement is awarded points:
- for very much so
- for moderately so
- for somewhat
- for not at all
EXCEPT for statement 14 “my body feels relaxed” where the score is reversed. For example:
- 4 for very much so
- 3 for moderately so
- 2 for somewhat
- 1 for not at all
To calculate the athlete’s individual scores for cognitive state anxiety, somatic state anxiety and self-confidence, follow the instructions below:
Cognitive State Anxiety
To calculate the athletes score for cognitive state anxiety, sum together the scores for the following statements:
- 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22 and 25.
Somatic State Anxiety
To calculate the athletes score for somatic state anxiety, sum together the scores for the following statements:
- 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26.
To calculate the athletes score for self-confidence, sum together the scores for the following statements:
- 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24 and 27.
What to do with the CSAI-2 score
The CSAI-2 score will provide a number between 9 and 36. The closer that number is to 9, it indicates the athlete has low anxiety (high self-confidence) and scores closer to 36, indicates high anxiety.
Now that we have the athletes CSAI-2 score and know if they have low or high cognitive anxiety, somatic anxiety and self-confidence, we now must interpret what this actually means for the athlete…
It’s important to highlight that different athletes may perform best with different levels of anxiety. According to Dr. Hanin’s (1980) individual zones of optimal functioning theory, some athletes may perceive low anxiety (athlete A in the image below) or an average level of anxiety (athlete B) as facilitative whereas other athletes may perceive it as debilitative.
Similarly, some athletes may perceive high anxiety as facilitative towards their performance (such as athlete C in the image below) and other athletes may perceive it as debilitative.
We must go through the process of getting to know the athlete and the athlete identifying what level of anxiety is facilitative and allows for them to perform at their best.
If an athlete displays anxiety that they perceive as debilitating or scores outside their optimal ranges on the CSAI-2, they may wish to consider implementing mental skills training to their weekly training schedule to either increase or decrease their anxiety levels so it is at their optimal level for them to perform at their best.
Advantages of the CSAI-2
The CSAI-2 has many advantages, which include:
- It can be completed anywhere.
- It’s low cost.
- It’s simple to complete.
- It’s relatively fast to complete.
Disadvantages of the CSAI-2
There are a few disadvantages to the CSAI-2, which include:
- Athletes may alter their answers to be more socially acceptable rather than being truthful.
- It doesn’t consider the athlete’s perception of anxiety or optimal zones of functioning.
- The Likert scale doesn’t allow athletes to expand on their answers.
Considerations for sport scientists using the CSAI-2
We are all aware as sport scientists and coaches that confidence and anxiety are two constructs that affect the performance of our athletes. The issue is that both are challenging to measure. The CSAI-2 questionnaire allows us to quantify these constructs.
There are inherent issues with any self-report data, and as we’ve covered in this article, there are no global levels athletes should aim for. However, the use of such tools serve as a benchmark to track future progress and as a window for opening up discussion into these areas with an athlete.
In this article, we’ve covered the basics on what cognitive anxiety, somatic anxiety and self-confidence is and how to measure these states using the CSAI-2.
Remember, every athlete is different and the level of anxiety that is facilitative for them and their performance will be unique to them.
If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:
- Dingley, E (2021). Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 (CSAI-2). Available from: link. [Accessed dd/mm/yyyy].
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Emily, co-founder of Sport Science Insider, graduated from the University of Leeds in 2020 and went on to become an accredited S&C coach with the UKSCA in 2022. A former athlete herself, Emily has since gone on to deliver S&C coaching for the Southern Academy of Sport, GB Rowing, GB Taekwondo and works currently as a full-time S&C coach at the University of Leeds.