The ability to cope with competitive stress is an integral part of elite sport performance. The purposes of this investigation were to identify and examine players’ perceptions of sources of stress and coping strategies prior to the 1999 soccer world cup finals. Using a case study approach (Stake, 2000), members of a women’s national soccer team (n = 10) participated in this investigation. Through the process of inductive data analysis, main sources of stress were categorized into the following four main themes: coaches, demands of international soccer, competitive stressors, and distractions. Participants used several types of strategies based on a range of problem-focused, emotion-focused, appraisal-reappraisal, and avoidance coping styles to deal with these stressors. The main coping themes identified were reappraisal, use of social resources, performance behaviors, and blocking. Athletes implemented different coping strategies depending on the stressors they encountered. The widest range of coping responses were displayed in coping with the communication styles used by the coaches. Implications of these findings for researchers, athletes, coaches, and sport psychologists are discussed.
Nicholas Holt is with the School of Leisure and Sport Studies at Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds LS6 3QS, England. E-mail: <N.Holt@lmu.ac.uk>. John M. Hogg is with the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta, Canada. Email: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.