Coping With the Effects of Fear of Failure: A Preliminary Investigation of Young Elite Athletes

in Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology

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Sam S. SagarLeeds Metropolitan University

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David LavalleeAberystwyth University

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Christopher M. SprayLoughborough University

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Coping with stress is an important element in effective functioning at the elite level in sports, and fear of failure (FF) is an example of a stressor that athletes experience. Three issues underpin the present preliminary study. First, the prevalence of problems attributed to FF in achievement settings. Second, sport is a popular and significant achievement domain for children and adolescents. Third, there is a lack of research on FF in sport among this population. Therefore, the objectives of the study were to examine the effects of FF on young athletes and to find out their coping responses to the effects of FF. Interviews were conducted individually with nine young elite athletes (5 males, 4 females; ages 14–17 years). It was inferred from the data that FF affected the athletes’ well-being, interpersonal behavior, sport performance, and schoolwork. The athletes employed a combination of problem-focused, emotion-focused, and avoidance-focused coping strategies, with avoidance strategies being the most frequently reported.

Sam S. Sagar is with the Department of Psychology at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK; David Lavallee is with the Department of Sport and Exercise Science at Aberystwyth University, UK; and Christopher, M. Spray is with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Loughborough University, UK. E-mail: S.Sagar@leedsmet.ac.uk.

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