"If I'm Not Nervous, I'm Worried, Does That Make Sense?": The Use of Emotion Concepts by Athletes in Accounts of Performance


  • Abigail Locke University of Derby




emotion, athletes, sport psychology, discursive psychology, accountability


Traditionally research into emotions in sport has focused on the impact of specific emotions upon performance, most notably anxiety. This paper approaches emotion from the perspective of discursive psychology, drawing on the methods of discourse analysis and conversation analysis. Using interview data from high level athletes, this paper examines the uses of emotion concepts in accounts of athletic performance. What becomes apparent through the analysis is that athletes claim that specific emotions such as nervousness are normal in sporting performance. In contrast, when accounting for failure, the athletes construct their build-up to the competition as containing no experience of these emotions. Rather than in traditional sports psychological research whereby emotions are seen to be quantifiable, this paper demonstrates how emotion terms form a rich interactional currency that are embedded within our accounting practices. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0301105


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Author Biography

Abigail Locke, University of Derby

Abigail LOCKE is a lecturer in psychology at the University of Derby. Her research interests are in the area of discursive psychology where she has looked at the rhetorical uses of emotion discourse. More recently she has looked at how young people construct their experiences of youth. She gained her PhD from Loughborough University where she was a member of the Discourse and Rhetoric Group (DARG). Her doctoral thesis "The mind-field of sport: Emotion, mind and accountability in athletes" looked at the interactional currency of mental states for accounting purposes.




How to Cite

Locke, A. (2003). "If I’m Not Nervous, I’m Worried, Does That Make Sense?": The Use of Emotion Concepts by Athletes in Accounts of Performance. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 4(1). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-4.1.752