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This study examined the sources of stress in elite figure skaters. Twenty-six former national-championship competitors were interviewed to identify their stressors during the most competitive phase of their athletic careers. The interviews consisted of open-ended and follow-up questions that provided an in-depth understanding of the athletes' sources of stress. Inductive content-analysis procedures established stress categories derived from the athletes' perspective. Five major sources of stress emerged from the data—negative aspects of competition, negative significant-other relationships, demands or costs of skating, personal straggles, and traumatic experiences. The results demonstrate that (a) elite athletes experience stress from both competition and noncompetition sources, (b) individual differences exist among elite athletes' sources of stress, and (c) elite and youth sport athletes have similar competition-related stressors.
Tara K. Scanlan is with the Department of Kinesiology, 2855 Slichter Hall, UCLA, 405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024. Gary Stein is with the Department of Physical Education and Human Movement at the University of Oregon, 171 Esslinger, Eugene, OR 97403-1273. Kenneth Ravizza is with the Department of Physical Education, Cal State University, Fullerton, CA 92634.