Cold hands are an acknowledged symptom of anxiety or out-of-control arousal, and precompetitive anxiety or over arousal is detrimental to optimal athletic performance, with younger athletes being more susceptible than their more experienced, older counterparts. Research has shown that control of anxiety levels can be effectively learned through voluntary hand-warming with the aid of a few short sessions of thermal biofeedback This study, "Thermal Biofeedback, Locus of Control, and Precompetitive Anxiety in Young Athletes" explored the effectiveness of using small, battery-powered, "Walkman-sized" biofeedback instruments, with a thermistor which as attached to a finger with velcro tape, for in-situ simultaneous training of groups of young athletes. Feedback was both digital, 0.01°C sensitivity, and audio, with a tone which descended in pitch as the finger temperature rose. This study involved 140 young,
highly competitive athlete volunteers (track&field, N = 61; swimming, N = 79), 66 females and 74 males, mean age 14.8 years, age range 8.9 - 20.5 years, from local high schools and swimming clubs. Athletes were randomly assigned to three groups: experimental, partial feedback, and waiting-list (mean group size 6.65), and given 5 X 20 minute training sessions, with the waiting-list's training being provided following the posttests for all three groups. Competitive trait anxiety was measured pretest with the Sport Competition Anxiety Test (SCAT). Pretest-posttest perception of personal control was measured using the internality subscale of Levenson's IPC Scale, and precompetitive anxiety was measured with the Competitive State Anxiety
Inventory (CSAI-2). Whereas the IPC Scale was administered immediately pre- and post temperature training sessions, the CSAI-2 questionnaire was administered, as soon as possible, following two important meets - one before finger
temperature training - and the first such meet following finger temperature training. Significant positive pretest correlations (p< .01) were found between age and cognitive state anxiety intensity, and between competitive trait anxiety and both cognitive and somatic state anxiety intensity. Significant negative pretest correlations (p< .01) were found between competitive trait anxiety and self-confidence intensity, and between self-confidence intensity and both cognitive and somatic state anxiety intensity. Internality was significantly and positively correlated (p< .01) with the ability to control finger temperature, but correlations between finger temperature control and the other variables were non-significant. The combined experimental and waiting-list group achieved significant voluntary finger temperature control, F(1,160) = 5.30, p< .05, but no significant improvements
were found in internal locus of control, or in precompetitive state anxiety intensity or direction. It was concluded that finger temperature control can be learned by groups of athletes in school and club settings - although there was no opportunity for non-feedback testing, or for a follow-up test - and that simpler and shorter questionnaires might be better suited to young athletes in these settings.