An unresolved issue in the coping literature concerns the traitlike versus statelike nature of coping utilization. The aim of this study was to illustrate the benefits of moving beyond the sole reliance on mean-level and rank-order analyses in order to identify heterogeneous patterns of longitudinal stability and change in coping utilization. More specifically, this study hypothesized that not all athletes would change their coping across competitions, nor do all “changers” change in a similar manner. Male soccer players (N = 107) completed a self-reported coping measure after three competitions held over a 6-month period. Results of latent class growth modeling showed three distinct trajectories for each coping dimension (i.e., task, distraction, and disengagement coping), not only indicating linear or quadratic change, but also stability in longitudinal coping utilization. These results highlight the need to account for the multinomial heterogeneity in longitudinal coping utilization and to identify the correlates associated with distinct trajectories of change and stability of coping across competitions.
Louvet and Menaut are with Faculté des Sciences du Sport, VST2I EA 498, Université de Bordeaux II; Gaudreau is with the School of Psychology, University of Ottawa; and Genty and Deneuve are with Faculté des Sciences du Sport, CETAPS EA 3832, Université de Rouen.