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Acupuncture decreases competitive anxiety prior to a competition in young athletes: a randomized controlled trial pilot study

  • Sahar Zarei , Monir Shayestehfar , Amir-Hossein Memari EMAIL logo , Tohid SeifBarghi and Vahid Sobhani



Although a certain level of competitive anxiety may increase performance, many athletes with anxiety experience uncontrolled negative feelings and cognition that in turn can have overwhelming effects on their performance.


We aimed to assess the effect of acupuncture on competitive anxiety of the adolescent football players prior to the competition using psychological and physiological markers. A total of 30 athletes were randomly and equally allocated to either acupuncture or sham control group.


The results of t-test on posttest scores showed that acupuncture had a significant effect on cognitive anxiety (p=0.001) and somatic anxiety (p<0.001) but not self-confidence (p>0.05). Furthermore, the results showed that acupuncture significantly decreased the skin conductance in acupuncture group compared to sham group (p=0.006) (p<0.001).


In conclusion, the results suggested that acupuncture has the capacity to decrease cognitive and somatic anxiety prior to competition in adolescent athletes while this was accompanied by significant physiological changes.

  1. Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

  2. Research funding: The study was supported by Tehran University of Medical Sciences; grant number: 10509.

  3. Employment or leadership: None declared.

  4. Honorarium: The authors received no honorarium.

  5. Competing interests: The funding organization(s) played no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication.


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Received: 2015-10-3
Accepted: 2016-8-16
Published Online: 2017-2-14

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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