College student athletes face unique, sport-related stressors that may lead to, or exacerbate, mental health (MH) concerns and symptoms. Although the National Collegiate Athletic Association has identified MH screening as a best practice, minimal data exist regarding contemporary screening practices. We explored National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I (DI), Division II (DII), and Division III (DIII) athletic departments’ current MH screening practices (N = 264). Compared with DII/DIII (53%), a greater percentage of Division I (89%) conducted formal MH screening. At DII/DIII institutions, athletic trainers were more likely to both administer and review screeners than any other sports medicine professional; sport psychologists primarily oversaw these tasks at DI schools. DI, compared with DII/DIII, institutions were more likely to have had a student athlete attempt suicide (62% vs. 40%) and participate in inpatient treatment (69% vs. 43%). There is a clear need for the National Collegiate Athletic Association to continue to promote policies that support MH screening and to create mechanisms in which it can monitor institutional involvement.
Megan Drew, Trent A. Petrie, and Tess Palmateer
Tsz Lun (Alan) Chu, Bailey Sommerfeld, and Tao Zhang
Building on recent research examining athlete burnout trajectories, this study implemented the developmental model of sport participation to compare emotional and physical exhaustion, reduced sense of accomplishment, and sport devaluation between age groups (specializing [aged 13–15 years] vs. investment [aged 16–18 years]) and gender (boys vs. girls) among U.S. high school athletes. Participants were 367 high school athletes (M = 15.53; 212 males; 186 specializing) across various individual and team sports who completed a survey assessing their demographic information, sport backgrounds, and burnout perceptions. A 2 × 2 multivariate analysis of covariance, controlling for training hours, showed greater emotional and physical exhaustion and sport devaluation in the investment than the specializing group, but no developmental differences in reduced sense of accomplishment. Contrary to our hypothesis, no gender or interaction effects were found. Findings inform interventions and future research that address the role of developmental stages and gender in athlete burnout.
Georgia A. Bird, Mary L. Quinton, and Jennifer Cumming
This study investigated the relationship between reappraisal and suppression with depression and mental well-being among university athletes. It was hypothesized reappraisal would associate with lower depression and greater mental well-being, whereas suppression would associate with greater depression and reduced mental well-being. Employing a cross-sectional design, 427 participants (Mage = 20.18, SD = 1.52; 188 males and 239 females) completed questionnaires assessing mental health and strategy use. Hierarchical multiple regressions revealed reappraisal was positively associated, and suppression negatively associated with mental well-being, ΔR2 = 4.8%, ΔF(2, 422) = 17.01, p < .001; suppression, β = −0.08, p = .028; reappraisal, β = 0.21, p < .001, but neither were associated with depression, ΔR2 = 0.4%, ΔF(2, 422) = 1.33, p = .267; suppression, β = 0.06, p = .114; reappraisal, β = 0.03, p = .525. Results highlight reappraisal as correlated with mental well-being in student-athletes, and therefore, reappraisal could be beneficial for managing stress in sport. Reappraisal may implicate how well-being is promoted through sport, but future experimental research is needed to confirm causal relationships.
Andreas Kuettel, Natalie Durand-Bush, and Carsten H. Larsen
The purpose of this study was (a) to investigate gender differences in mental health among Danish youth soccer players, (b) to discover the mental health profiles of the players, and (c) to explore how career progression and mental health are related. A total of 239 Danish youth elite soccer players (M = 16.85, SD = 1.09) completed an online questionnaire assessing mental well-being, depression, anxiety, along with other background variables. Female players scored significantly lower on mental well-being and had four times higher odds of expressing symptoms of anxiety and depression than males. Athletes’ mental health profiles showed that most athletes experience low depression while having moderate mental well-being. Depression, anxiety, and stress scores generally increased when progressing in age, indicating that the junior–senior transition poses distinct challenges to players’ mental health, especially for female players. Different strategies to foster players’ mental health depending on their mental health profiles are proposed.
Benjamin J.I. Schellenberg, Jérémie Verner-Filion, and Patrick Gaudreau
Athletes can respond to positive experiences in sport by engaging in savoring—that is, by attempting to prolong or amplify their positive feelings. In this research, the authors tested if savoring was predicted by levels of harmonious or obsessive passion for sport and if savoring was associated with symptoms of burnout. In Study 1 (n = 499), the authors found that savoring was positively associated with harmonious passion and negatively associated with obsessive passion. In addition, savoring predicted lower levels of burnout and played an indirect role in the relationship between both passion types and burnout. The authors replicated these findings in Study 2 (n = 298), with collegiate-level athletes, prospectively, over the course of a season. Overall, athletes with strong levels of harmonious passion appear to be most likely to engage in savoring, a response that may protect them from experiencing higher levels of burnout.
Christine E. Pacewicz and Alan L. Smith
Interpersonal exchanges may contribute to athletes’ motivational and well-being experiences through their contribution to athletes’ feelings of loneliness. Loneliness is understudied in sport, yet it is potentially salient in connecting social relationships with motivational processes and well-being of athletes. The purpose of the current research was to examine (a) the association of aspects of teammate relationships with athletes’ perceptions of burnout and engagement and (b) whether loneliness explained these associations. Adolescent athletes (N = 279) completed established measures of teammate relationships, loneliness, burnout, and engagement. The mediational model was invariant between boys and girls. Loneliness mediated the relationship of social support (β = −0.14, 0.10), corumination (β = 0.09, −0.06), and appraisal of peer rejection (β = 0.11, −0.08) with burnout and engagement, respectively. Continued examination of athletes’ loneliness will extend understanding of athletes’ motivational and well-being experiences and inform the promotion of adaptive sport experiences.
Sara Oliveira, Marina Cunha, António Rosado, and Cláudia Ferreira
This study aimed to test a model that hypothesized that the compassionate coach, as perceived by the athletes, has an impact on athlete-related social safeness and psychological health, through shame and self-criticism. The sample comprised 270 Portuguese adult athletes, who practiced different competitive sports. The path analysis results confirmed the adequacy of the proposed model, which explained 45% of the psychological health’s variance. Results demonstrated that athletes who perceive their coaches as more compassionate tend to present higher levels of social safeness (feelings of belonging to the team) and of psychological health, through lower levels of shame and self-criticism. These novel findings suggest the importance of the adoption of supportive, warm, safe, and compassionate attitudes from coaches in athletes’ mental health. This study also offers important insights by suggesting that feelings of acceptance and connectedness in team relationships may be at the root of athletes’ emotional processes and well-being.
Susumu Iwasaki, Mary D. Fry, and Candace M. Hogue
The purpose of this study was to examine the mediating role of mindful engagement in the relationship between male high school athletes’ motivational climate perceptions on their teams (i.e., caring, task-, and ego-involving climate) to athlete coachability. Athletes (N = 164, M age = 15.58 years) from multiple sports completed measures assessing mindful engagement in sport (Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale—Revised), Caring Climate Scale, task- and ego-involving climate perceptions (Perceived Motivational Climate in Sport Questionnaire), and coachability (Athletic Coping Skills Inventory). Initial bivariate correlations linked mindful engagement and coachability positively with perceptions of a caring and task-involving climate and negatively with ego-involving climate perceptions. Structural equation modeling analyses then revealed mindful engagement mediated the relationship between climate and coachability. Encouraging coaches and players to foster a caring/task-involving climate might assist in enhancing athletes’ mindful engagement in sport, which may positively influence the degree to which they are coachable.
Dana K. Voelker, Nick Galli, Maya Miyairi, Justine J. Reel, and Karley James
Unhealthy cognitive–emotional relationships with exercise can hinder positive treatment outcomes when left unaddressed. However, clinicians lack validated tools to monitor this aspect of treatment. This study examined the 14-item Intuitive Exercise Scale with 165 patients in the United States (M age = 26.48 years) who were receiving treatment for an eating disorder. The original factor structure was inadequate for the current sample, and exploratory factor analysis generated three factors—emotional exercise, body intuition, and exercise variety. The three-factor solution yielded strong internal consistency and partial support for the scale’s validity. Furthermore, patients scored lowest in body intuition, confirming low awareness of bodily cues common in patients with eating disorders. This study informs how clinicians may integrate and monitor patients’ cognitive–emotional relationship with exercise as part of holistic and intuitive eating disorder treatment approaches.
Graig M. Chow, Matthew D. Bird, Stinne Soendergaard, and Todd A. Gilson
The rate of alcohol consumption among student-athletes places them at risk for engaging in unsafe behaviors. Although coaches play a key role in regulating alcohol use among athletes, many lack the knowledge and self-confidence to be effective. This study aimed to examine the relationship between alcohol consumption literacy and alcohol confrontation efficacy among National Collegiate Athletic Association head coaches and attempted to identify types of training and education wanted to better manage student-athlete alcohol use. A total of 518 National Collegiate Athletic Association head coaches completed alcohol consumption literacy and alcohol confrontation efficacy measures and two open-ended questions about what kind of alcohol training, information, and skills were needed. When accounting for previous education/training and gender of team coached, alcohol consumption literacy predicted all confrontation efficacy subscales. Content analysis showed coaches wanted training related to alcohol literacy, effective communication, and prevention planning. Findings have implications for designing alcohol prevention and intervention programs aimed at National Collegiate Athletic Association coaches.