An Examination of Coping in Sport: Individual Trait Anxiety Differences and Situational Consistency

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Peter R. Giacobbi Jr. University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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Robert S. Weinberg Miami University

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The purposes of the present investigation were to examine the coping responses of different subgroups of athletes (e.g., high and low trait anxious athletes), and to assess the consistency of athlete’s coping behaviors across situations. Two-hundred and seventy-three athletes completed the Sport Anxiety Scale (SAS) by Smith, Smoll, & Schutz (1990) and coping assessments in trait and state versions of the sport adapted COPE (MCOPE) by Crocker and Graham (1995). The state coping measures assessed coping responses of situations for which the athletes actually experienced. The results of three separate, doubly multivariate, repeated measures, MANOVA’s showed that high trait anxious athletes responded to stressful situations using different coping behaviors (e.g., denial, wishful thinking, and self-blame) than the low trait anxious athletes. In addition, coping appears to be more stable than situationally variable as Pearson correlational coefficients computed between the three measures ranged from 0.53 to 0.80. The results are discussed with regard to theoretical, research, and applied issues.

Peter Giacobbi, Jr. is with the Department of HPER at the University of Tennessee. Knoxville, Knoxville, TN 37996-2700. Robert S. Weinberg is with the Department of Physical Education, Health, and Sport Studies at Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056.

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