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Guided by the work-family interface literature, this study examined the concept of spillover in a sample of elite athletes. It was conceptualized that there would be potential negativity and interference between athletes’ intense demands of competitive sport and efforts to maintain positive relationships with their partners. Antecedents and consequences of the potential spillover phenomenon were assessed in a sample of 87 elite-level athletes who had either romantic or marital, heterosexual relationships. Findings indicated that while trust, commitment, and communication were not strongly related to spillover, negative transactions were. Moreover, the occurrence of spillover was negatively related to sport satisfaction and positively to depressive symptoms. Finally, it was found that a mechanism by which perceived negative transactions were linked to athletes’ satisfaction and depression was through spillover. Spillover can help explain how personal relationships and sport are likely to contribute to athletes’ performance accomplishment and overall well-being.
Sophia Jowett is in the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, and Duncan Cramer is in the Department of Social Sciences, both at Loughborough University in the UK. E-mail: S.Jowett@lboro.ac.uk.