The aim of the present study was to identify profiles of elite athlete mental well- and ill-being and study how the profiles (i.e., subgroups of athletes) differed in sport-related demands and resources. A total of 259 Finnish elite athletes (n = 170 active and n = 89 retired) completed quantitative self-report inventories. Through cluster analysis, four profiles of mental well- and ill-being were identified. Profile 1 was overrepresented by retired, older, and male athletes, and characterized by good mental well-being. Profile 2 consisted mainly of active athletes who reported mild risk for alcohol abuse. Profile 3 consisted mainly of women who displayed possible presence of an eating disorder. Profile 4 was typical of young athletes with mental ill-being. The balance between sport-related demands and resources appeared to be the healthiest in Profile 1 and worst in Profile 4. The present findings are beneficial for those who work with and/or provide psychological support to athletes.
Satu Kaski, Monna Arvinen-Barrow, Ulla Kinnunen, and Jari Parkkari
Courtney C. Walton, Kelsey J. Lewis, James Kirby, Rosemary Purcell, Simon M. Rice, and Margaret S. Osborne
This cross-sectional study explored athlete responses to the Compassion Motivation and Action Scales Self-Compassion Scale, examining its relationship with well-being. Athlete (N = 207; mean age 27.9 years) scores were consistent with previous population means. Scores on the Compassion Motivation and Action Scales Self-Compassion Scale did not differ between elite and nonelite athletes, nor did they correlate significantly with trait competitiveness. Significant differences emerged based on athlete well-being state, with athletes categorized as “flourishing” scoring higher on the total score and all subscales of the Compassion Motivation and Action Scales Self-Compassion Scale, as compared with those with “moderate mental health” (Cohen’s ds from 0.58 to 0.92). Furthermore, the distress tolerance subscale significantly mediated the relationship between self-compassion intentions and well-being (indirect path: B = 0.034, p < .001). The results suggest that self-compassionate intentions are not enough, and athletes may need support to tolerate the distress that comes with moving toward one’s own suffering.
Debra Kriger, Amélie Keyser-Verreault, Janelle Joseph, and Danielle Peers
Intersectional approaches are needed in sport research and administration to create significant changes in access, participation, and leadership. The operationalizing intersectionality framework—graphically represented as a wheel with spokes and points of traction—offers a nonexhaustive, evolving structure that can facilitate contextual, deliberate actions to disrupt overlapping systems of oppression. The framework was assembled to guide E-Alliance, the gender equity in sport in Canada research hub, in embodying its commitment to intersectional approaches and designed for broader application to sport. Current gender equity efforts mostly continue to prioritize the knowledge and needs of White, middle–upper-class, nondisabled, not fat, heteronormative, binary, cisgender women and have yet to achieve parity. Acting meaningfully on commitments to intersectional approaches means focusing on how axes work together and influence each other. The framework can help advance cultural sport psychology and ultimately improve athletic well-being.
Nikki E. Barczak-Scarboro, Emily Kroshus, Brett Pexa, Johna K. Register Mihalik, and J.D. DeFreese
Competitive sport involves physical and psychological stressors, such as training load and stress perceptions, that athletes must adapt to in order to maintain health and performance. Psychological resilience, one’s capacity to equilibrate or adapt affective and behavioral responses to adverse physical or emotional experiences, is an important topic in athlete training and performance. The study purpose was to investigate associations of training load and perceived sport stress with athlete psychological resilience trajectories. Sixty-one collegiate club athletes (30 females and 31 males) completed self-reported surveys over 6 weeks of training. Athletes significantly differed in resilience at the beginning of competitive training. Baseline resilience differences were associated with resilience trajectories. Perceived stress and training load were negatively associated with resilience. Physical and psychological stressors had a small but statistically significant impact on resilience across weeks of competitive training, indicating that both types of stressors should be monitored to maintain athlete resilience.
Martha J. Anderson, Yvette Ingram, Linda Meyer, Thomas West, and Ellen West
Collegiate athletes have demonstrated a need for social support to help cope with their daily responsibilities. The purpose of this research was to explore National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II athletes’ perception of social support from friends, teammates, family, coaches, significant others, and athletic trainers following injury, illness, or other identified life stressors. There were 546 participants who completed a five-part survey using the University Stress Scale, the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, the Athletic Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, the Perceived Stress Scale, and a demographic section. Of the participants, 352 (64.5%) stated that they experienced moderate stress levels, and all participants indicated experiencing an identified life stressor within the last 12 months. The results indicated statistically significant differences when comparing providers of social support: females preferred the support of friends, significant others, and athletic trainers, and freshmen and sophomores perceived more social support from friends than did juniors and seniors.
Tsz Lun (Alan) Chu, Ellea Bachmeier, and Taylor Mair
Qualitative research has demonstrated the prevalence of gender inequity and sexism in sport-related careers, including those in sport psychology. To provide quantitative evidence, we examined the role of gender in Certified Mental Performance Consultants’ (CMPC) specialization and employment by extracting and coding the data (N = 576) from the CMPC Directory. Independent samples t tests showed that male CMPCs specialized in more masculine sports, less feminine sports, and a similar number of gender-neutral sports compared with female CMPCs. Chi-square tests of independence revealed a larger proportion of male than female CMPCs working in professional sport. No significant differences were found in other employment settings (college sport, military, and private practice), age-group specialization, and mental health licensure. These findings, which should be interpreted with caution before further investigation, suggest a need for collaboration between sport psychology professionals and sport organizations that might help mitigate internal and external barriers to gender equity.
Cassandra M. Seguin and Diane M. Culver
While research advancements have substantially improved concussion management efforts, consideration for the psychological and social aspects of concussive injuries have remained largely absent from concussion protocols. The present study was undertaken to identify elite athletes’ psychological and social needs during the recovery process. Elite athletes with a history of concussion and mental performance consultants who work with concussed elite athletes participated in focus group interviews to shed light on these needs. A thematic analysis of these focus groups revealed six psychological and social needs: acceptance, normality, confidence, self-efficacy, trust in relationships, and social support. These themes are framed within concussion literature to help initiate a conversation on how psychological and social needs should be addressed as part of multifaceted efforts to improve concussion recovery.
Shakiba Oftadeh-Moghadam and Paul Gorczynski
The aim of this systematic review was to investigate the prevalence of mental health symptoms and disorders in rugby players. Six electronic databases were searched in December 2020. Studies were included if they provided quantitative data on mental health symptoms and disorders and consisted of adult rugby players. Eight studies were included, covering symptoms of anxiety, depression, alcohol use/misuse, distress, sleeping/sleep disturbance, and eating disorders/adverse nutrition behaviors. Prevalence of mental health symptoms ranged from 6% (depression) to 68.8% (alcohol use/misuse). Most rates were similar to the general population, while symptoms of sleeping/sleep disturbance were lower, and symptoms of eating disorders/adverse nutrition behaviors and alcohol use/misuse were higher than the general population. One study included female rugby players. Epidemiological evidence comprising of rigorous diagnostic data and inclusive of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and other protected characteristics is needed to inform future mental health support in this population.
Nick Galli, Skye Shodahl, and Mark P. Otten
Because an athletes’ body is central to their identity, it is important to consider the ramifications of retirement from sport on their well-being. Using a single-group pre–post test design, the purpose of this exploratory study was to expand on the current state of knowledge regarding the body image and health behavior transition of retired intercollegiate athletes. Ten athletes from three institutions completed demographic and health behavior questions, the Body-Image Ideals Questionnaire, and selected items from the Body Parts Satisfaction Scale-Revised online prior to and after retirement (M = 305 days). Although most athletes reported maintaining healthy patterns of nutrition and physical activity in retirement, results showed that body satisfaction significantly declined, and that actual–ideal body discrepancy increased, albeit to a nonsignificant degree. National Collegiate Athletic Association athletics departments to consider how they can more effectively empower athletes to take care of and appreciate their body even after the final performance.