“Compare TWO psychological strategies that each of these athletes would employ to enhance motivation OR manage anxiety” is the end of an 8 mark question in the 2010 HSC PDHPE exam. The full question in below.
The following profiles describe two athletes and their sports.
- Elite individual target sport athlete
- Maintains a low heart rate and controlled breathing
- Maintains intense focus and concentration
- Considers a range of environmental factors
- Spectators are kept quiet
- Elite team/territorial sport athlete
- High levels of physical exertion
- Performs under pressure from opponents
- Loud spectators and game commentary
- Party-like atmosphere with music over public address system
Compare TWO psychological strategies that each of these athletes would employ to enhance motivation OR manage anxiety. 8 Marks 
To answer this question you should first think about the key word “compare”. Compare means to show similarities and differences as the marking criteria clearly states:
For Athletes A AND B clearly shows the similarities or differences between TWO psychological strategies used to enhance motivation or manage anxiety 
You then need to identify which types of strategies would prove most useful for the 2 athletes. For Athlete A there are give aways – “controlled breathing” and “intense focus and concentration”. With these hints I would be choosing either a focusing or relaxation technique. Athlete B has a very different sport and is under pressure in a heightened entertainment like environment, as such I would recommend visualisation as a psychological strategy.
With this decided we just need to come up with a sport or two that the athlete’s could be playing in, such as Shooting or Archery for Athlete A and Basketball or Football for Athlete B. Now let’s piece it together into a sample answer:
Centred breathing is a psychological strategy that aims relax the athlete by decreasing the respiratory and heart rate. Centred breathing also helps to increase focus and reduce anxiety before performance. This psychological strategy is best suited for sports such as shooting or archery, which are target sports. Therefore, centred breathing would prove beneficial for Athlete A as reduced anxiety will help to keep their hands steady and increase accuracy.
Visualisation is a psychological strategy used by athletes to enable them to practice under simulated conditions. Visualisation is particularly beneficial for athletes who compete in games that have a more constant output with pressure coming from opposition and noisy environments such as basketball or football. It allows the athlete to rehearse performing under pressure and reduce anxiety when such performances are needed. Visualisation would, therefore, best suit Athlete B who has a similar sport.
Centred breathing is different to visualisation in that the focus in on slowing the breathing and heart rate, while visualisation is about creating a mental environment in order to practice the skill – e.g. an athlete may visualise driving to the ring and scoring a lay-up whilst under pressure from 3 or 4 defenders. Such visualisation should be seen from the athlete’s perspective and increase as much detail as possible, including a loud crowd or music. Visualisation can help the athlete to perform under such conditions, while centred breathing requires the athlete to have the time to focus on their breathing before a particular performance of a rather short duration, such as shooting a clay disc.
Both visualisation and centred breathing can be used to improve performance, but each best suits particular environments. Indeed, both strategies may benefit each athlete but at different points of their performance. e.g. a basketballer may use centred breathing before a free-throw.
This answer is not perfect (and this is not expected under exam situations), but shows one way to answer this question. The marker is looking for key terms from the syllabus (in bold) and comparative terms (in red). I have also provided specific examples int eh answer (in green) that help to compare TWO psychological strategies that each of these athletes would employ to enhance motivation OR manage anxiety.