• Open Access

The effect of challenge and threat states on performance: An examination of potential mechanisms


  • The authors thank Dr. David McIntyre and Dr. Andrew Cooke for their assistance with the kinematic and physiological recording equipment and data analysis software. Furthermore, the authors thank Professor Christopher Ring for his helpful comments regarding the analysis and interpretation of the cardiovascular data. Finally, the authors thank Kirstie Eglon and Christopher Webb for their help with participant recruitment and data collection.

Address correspondence to: Lee J. Moore, Sport and Health Sciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, St Luke's Campus, Heavitree Road, Exeter, Devon, EX1 2LU, United Kingdom. E-mail: lm267@exeter.ac.uk


Challenge and threat states predict future performance; however, no research has examined their immediate effect on motor task performance. The present study examined the effect of challenge and threat states on golf putting performance and several possible mechanisms. One hundred twenty-seven participants were assigned to a challenge or threat group and performed six putts during which emotions, gaze, putting kinematics, muscle activity, and performance were recorded. Challenge and threat states were successively manipulated via task instructions. The challenge group performed more accurately, reported more favorable emotions, and displayed more effective gaze, putting kinematics, and muscle activity than the threat group. Multiple putting kinematic variables mediated the relationship between group and performance, suggesting that challenge and threat states impact performance at a predominately kinematic level.