Stephen P. Hebard, James E. Bissett, Emily Kroshus, Emily R. Beamon, and Aviry Reich
Sport coaches can play an influential role in athletes’ mental health help seeking through purposeful communication, destigmatization of mental health concerns, and supportive relationships. To positively engage in these behaviors, coaches require mental health knowledge (or literacy), positive attitudes about that knowledge, and self-efficacy to use that knowledge. Guided by a multidimensional health literacy framework, we conducted a content analysis of web content and scholarly literature to identify health education programming for coaches that addressed athlete mental health. A purposive sample of Olympic National Governing Bodies, collegiate athletic associations, high school sport associations, youth sport governing bodies, and the scholarly literature were analyzed. We found inconsistent programming regarding a range of mental health disorders, behaviors critical to mental health promotion, and critical components of mental health literacy. Implications and next steps for mental health literacy support for coaches are discussed.
Luke F. Olsson, Michael C. Grugan, Joseph N. Martin, and Daniel J. Madigan
Perfectionism is a consistent predictor of athlete burnout. Researchers have therefore sought to examine the psychological mechanisms that may explain this relationship. In the present study, guided by Smith’s cognitive-affective stress model, we extend existing research by examining whether perceived stress is one such explanatory factor. A sample of 256 adult athletes completed measures of perfectionism (perfectionistic strivings and perfectionistic concerns), perceived stress, and burnout. Correlational analyses indicated that perfectionistic concerns was positively related to burnout, while perfectionistic strivings was either negatively related or unrelated to burnout. Tests of bias-corrected bootstrapped indirect effects showed that perceived stress mediated the positive relationship between perfectionistic concerns and burnout. This finding was evident when examining total burnout and all three burnout symptoms. It appears that athletes high in perfectionistic concerns are likely to experience heightened levels of stress in sport which may in turn render them more vulnerable to burnout.
Jana Fogaca, Illene Cupit, and Matthew Gonzalez
Although there is awareness of the impact of grief on survivors’ well-being, almost no research exists on the impact of death on sports team bereavement. The present study surveyed 40 members of athletic teams (coaches, staff, and athletes) from various levels to determine what happens in the aftermath of a team member’s death. Findings of the survey indicated that many of the respondents experienced acute grief responses affecting performance, which memorialization and community support was helpful whereas the news media was often not. In addition, a need for appropriate resources and a school bereavement policy specific to student athletes was seen. In line with the dual process model, the responses indicated use of both emotion focused and restoration focused coping. Implications of the findings suggested that addressing bereavement needs for athletes, and their coaches was tantamount to mitigating some of the complications associated with disenfranchised grief.
Jacob J. Levy, Terrance L. Tarver, and Hannah R. Douglas
Changes in exercise behavior and negative emotional states (i.e., depression, anxiety, and stress) in combat sport (e.g., boxing, wrestling, martial arts) athletes were examined the month prior to gym closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic (February 2020), and approximately 1 month following gym closures (May 2020). A total of 312 combat sport athletes from 33 different countries responded to the study solicitation. Results indicated a significant decrease in combat sport training following gym closures; however, participation in other exercise activities did not significantly change. Significant mean increases in depression, anxiety, and stress were found following combat gym closures. Regression analyses revealed that number of hours of participants participated in combat sport training added significant incremental variance explained in depressive and stress symptoms above and beyond that accounted for by sex differences, preexisting conditions, and training level. Practical implications regarding losses to preferred exercise activities are discussed.
David P. Schary and Carolina Lundqvist
In reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictive policies altered student-athletes’ academic and athletic life. Sparse research has investigated the pandemic’s effect on student-athlete mental health in terms of both negative (e.g., depression, anxiety) and positive (e.g., well-being, quality of life) dimensions. This study explored the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on well-being and quality of life among National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I student-athletes at different stages of their collegiate career. Ninety-nine student-athletes (M age = 19.7 years, SD = 1.5) completed assessments on their mental health. Regression analysis revealed experiences directly related to COVID-19 did not affect general well-being or quality of life, but anxiety, depression, and significant insomnia did. Social well-being was lower for student-athletes closer to graduation (e.g., juniors, seniors), independent of reported anxiety and depression levels. These findings highlight the importance of psychosocial support, particularly in times of crisis, and indicate that tailored support might be beneficial at later stages of the collegiate years.
Mary D. Fry, Candace M. Hogue, Susumu Iwasaki, and Gloria B. Solomon
Psychological coping skills in sport are believed to be central to athlete performance and well-being. This study examined the relationship between the perceived motivational climate in elite collegiate sport teams and player psychological coping skills use. Division I athletes (N = 467) completed a questionnaire examining their perceptions of how caring, task-, and ego-involving their teams were and their use of sport specific psychological coping skills (i.e., coping with adversity, peaking under pressure, goal setting/mental preparation, concentration, freedom from worry, confidence/achievement motivation, and coachability). Structural equation modeling revealed positive relationships between perceptions of a task-involving climate and confidence/achievement motivation (β = 0.42) and goal setting/mental preparation (β = 0.27). Caring climate perceptions were positively associated with coachability (β = 0.34). These findings illustrate how encouraging athletes and coaches to create a caring, task-involving climate may facilitate athletes’ use of psychological coping skills and set athletes up to perform their best and have a positive sporting experience.
Lisa Chaba, Stéphanie Scoffier-Mériaux, Fabienne d’Arripe-Longueville, and Vanessa Lentillon-Kaestner
This article focuses on two popular sports that can put male athletes at risk of developing an eating disorder: bodybuilding and running. Bodybuilders concentrate on gaining muscle mass and runners on leaning body mass. Based on the trans-contextual model of motivation, this study aimed to better understand the psychological mechanisms underlying eating disorders in these athletes. In all, 272 male bodybuilders and 217 male runners completed measures of sport motivation, theory of planned behavior variables (i.e., attitude, subjective norm, perceived behavioral control, and intention to gain muscle mass/lean body mass), and eating disorders (dieting, control, and bulimia behaviors). The results revealed satisfactory fit indices for both samples. Autonomous and controlled motivations for sport were positively directly and indirectly related to eating disorders in these athletes. This motivational mechanism needs more in-depth investigation, and motivational profiles might help distinguish athletes with and without eating disorders.
Jessica Murphy, Karen A. Patte, Philip Sullivan, and Scott T. Leatherdale
The mental health benefits of physical activity may relate more to the context of the behavior, rather than the behavior of being active itself. The association between varsity sport (VS) participation, depression, and anxiety symptoms was explored using data from 70,449 high school students from the Cannabis use, Obesity, Mental health, Physical activity, Alcohol use, Smoking, and Sedentary behavior study. The model adjusted for potential covariates; interactions by sex and participation in outside of school sport (OSS) were explored. Overall, 70% and 24% of respondents met or exceeded cutoff values for depression and anxiety, respectively. Students participating in VS had lower symptoms of anxiety and depression compared with nonparticipants. Results were consistent regardless of OSS participation; associations were strongest among students who participated in both VS and OSS and males. Participation in VS may prove beneficial for the prevention and/or management of depression or anxiety symptoms, particularly among males. An additive beneficial effect of OSS on depression and anxiety scores may exist.