This qualitative study examined how NFL players and their family members characterized the impact of an NFL career on the mental and emotional health of NFL players. We interviewed 25 NFL players (23 former and 2 current) and 27 family members (24 wives and 3 others) to elicit players’ experiences during and following their time in the NFL. While players experienced positive outcomes from their careers, they also described important mental health challenges including feelings of depression, loneliness, and stress. Many of their concerns during their careers were linked to anxiety about job performance and job security. Post-career concerns were linked to loss of social identity and connections. Players had difficulty finding help for their concerns. We conclude with eight recommendations, including improved resources, confidentiality, and support.
Sarah A. McGraw, Christopher R. Deubert, Holly Fernandez Lynch, Alixandra Nozzolillo, Lauren Taylor and I. Glenn Cohen
Matthew D. Bird, Graig M. Chow, Gily Meir and Jaison Freeman
This study investigated differences in stigmatization by others, self-stigma, and attitudes (value and discomfort) toward online counseling (OC) and face-to-face counseling (F2F), and the relationships between these variables, in college student-athletes (n = 101) and non-athletes (n = 101). Results revealed no differences in levels of stigmatization by others and self-stigma between student-athletes and non-athletes. Furthermore, both groups reported higher value, and less discomfort, in F2F compared to OC, while non-athletes reported higher levels of value in F2F compared to student-athletes. A multiple group path analysis revealed no difference in the relationship of the stigma and attitudes variables between the two groups. Stigmatization by others was a significant positive predictor of self-stigma and value in OC. In addition, self-stigma was a significant negative predictor of value in F2F, and a significant positive predictor of discomfort in F2F. The current findings have implications for university counseling centers and athletic departments.
Michelle L. Bartlett, Mitch Abrams, Megan Byrd, Arial S. Treankler and Richard Houston-Norton
The State Trait Anger Expression Inventory-2 (STAXI-2) is one of the most widely used anger assessments in the clinical psychology literature. It describes multiple facets of anger including: state/trait anger levels, experience of anger, anger expression, and anger control. Prior to this study, normative data was lacking for college athletes. Without normative data established, it was difficult to accurately compare the scores of college athletes to a relevant comparison group, and thus, difficult to effectively assess athletes presenting with anger issues. This study provides normative data for college athletes (N = 534), as well as an examination of anger differences between gender and compared with a “non-specfic adult” population. Male college athletes scores indicated higher anger levels on several scales, demonstrating scores indicative of being more likely to express anger and less likely to manage feeling angry and expressing anger than both the normal population and female college athletes.
Brad Donohue, Yulia Gavrilova, Marina Galante, Elena Gavrilova, Travis Loughran, Jesse Scott, Graig Chow, Christopher P. Plant and Daniel N. Allen
Athletes experience unique stressors that have been indicated to compromise their mental wellness and sport performance, yet they underutilize mental health services. Indeed, very few mental health interventions for athletes have been developed to fit sport culture, and well-controlled mental health outcome research in athlete populations is warranted. In this randomized controlled trial, a sport specific optimization approach to concurrent mental health and sport performance (The Optimum Performance Program in Sports; TOPPS) was examined. Seventy-four collegiate athletes (NCAA = 42; club = 11; intramural = 21) formally assessed for mental health diagnostic severity were randomly assigned to TOPPS or campus counseling/psychological services as usual (SAU) after baseline. Dependent measures assessed general mental health, mood, mental health factors affecting sport performance in training, competition and life outside of sports, days using substances, sexual risk behaviors, happiness in relationships, relationships affecting sport performance, and contributions of relationship to sport performance. Intent to treat repeated measures analyses indicated that participants in TOPPS consistently demonstrated better outcomes than SAU up to 8-months post-randomization and for mental health/substance use measures, particularly when diagnostic criteria were most severe. Recommendations are provided in light of the results to assist sport-specific mental health intervention development and implementation within athlete populations.
Jay Johnson, Michelle D. Guerrero, Margery Holman, Jessica W. Chin and Mary Anne Signer-Kroeker
The overall purpose of the present study was to examine hazing among university athletes in Canada. More specifically, athletes’ experiences with hazing behaviors, knowledge regarding hazing, perceptions of the nature of hazing, attitudes toward hazing, and exposure to hazing policy and prevention/intervention strategies were investigated. A total of 434 U Sports (formerly known as Canadian Interuniversity Sport) athletes from various varsity-level and club-level sports participated in the study. Results showed that 58% of athletes experienced at least one hazing behavior. Some athletes reported that coaches were not only aware of hazing behaviors, but also present while hazing behaviors occurred. Athletes who experienced hazing perceived more positive outcomes of hazing than negative, and did not report hazing incidents because they believed experiencing hazing was part of being a member of the team. A small percentage of athletes had participated in hazing prevention workshops. Implications of these findings pertain to education on hazing, hazing prevention strategies and interventions.
Leilani A. Madrigal, Vincenzo Roma, Todd Caze, Arthur Maerlender and Debra Hope
This study aimed to provide further psychometric validation of the Sport Anxiety Scale-2 (SAS-2) by assessing the factor structure, invariance across gender, and convergent and divergent validity of the SAS-2 by correlating both related (i.e., anxiety sensitivity, brief fear of negative evaluation, intolerance of uncertainty, and negative affect) and unrelated constructs (i.e., positive affect, self-confidence). A total of 542 current and former competitive athletes completed a questionnaire through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk system. All data were collected via online survey. Participants were randomly assigned to an exploratory factor analysis (n = 271) and confirmatory factor analysis group (n = 271). Results indicated that both exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses supported the three-factor model of anxiety involving somatic anxiety, worry, and concentration disruption. Additionally, this study found the SAS-2 to be reliable, gender invariant, and have strong construct validity. Our findings extend the generalizability of the SAS-2 in more varied populations of athletic backgrounds.
J.D. DeFreese, Travis E. Dorsch and Travis A. Flitton
Burnout and engagement are important psychological outcomes in sport with potential to impact athletes as well as sport parents. The present study examined associations among markers of the sport-based parent child-relationship (warmth and conflict) and parent burnout and engagement in organized youth sport. Youth sport parents (N = 214) aged 26–66 years (M = 43.2, SD = 6.2) completed valid and reliable self-report assessments of study variables. Study results showcased warmth, but not conflict, in the parent–child relationship as a significant negative contributor to global burnout and a significant positive contributor to global engagement in sport parents. Results offer preliminary insight into the impact of parent–child warmth in sport on parents’ experiences of burnout and engagement. Findings have implications for future research and practice designed to promote positive psychosocial experiences for sport families.
Vellapandian Ponnusamy, Michelle Guerrero and Jeffrey J. Martin
Elite Malaysian athletes (N = 179) from integrated and segregated sports rated the perceived importance of eight psychological strategies for improving performance using two different response format methods, a Likert rating scale and forced-choice. A forced-choice procedure produced better discrimination among the skills than a Likert rating scale procedure. We also found that the ratings of importance differed as a function of sport type and gender. Specifically, athletes in integrated sports placed more importance on setting team goals and clarifying roles/responsibilities compared to athletes in segregated sports. At the same time, participants in segregated sports viewed setting personal goals, psych-up strategies, and imagery as more important for performance than those in integrated sports. Significant interaction effects indicated that, within segregated sports, females rated positive self-talk higher than males, but communication skills were rated higher by males than by females.
Esmie P. Smith, Andrew P. Hill and Howard K. Hall
The relationship between perfectionism, burnout and depression among youth soccer players is of interest due to the competitive academy environments that must be navigated in order to become a professional soccer player. Three alternative theoretical models have been proposed to explain the relationship between perfectionism, burnout and depression. These models state that perfectionism is (a) a vulnerability factor for burnout and depression (vulnerability model), (b) a consequence of burnout and depression (complication/scar model), or (c) that the relationships are reciprocal (reciprocal relations model). The purpose of this study was to test these three models in youth soccer players. One hundred and eight male soccer players (M = 16.15 years, SD = 1.84) from professional clubs completed measures of perfectionism, burnout symptoms, and depressive symptoms twice, three months apart. Cross-lagged panel analysis provided support for a reciprocal relations model for burnout symptoms and a complication/scar model for depressive symptoms.
Duncan Simpson and Lauren P. Elberty
Phenomenological interviews were conducted with nine collegiate student-athletes (M = 24.11 years; SD = 3.76), from a range of sports, to explore how they experienced the unexpected death of a teammate. Qualitative analysis of interview data revealed a total of 626 meaning units which were used to produce a final thematic structure consisting of six higher order themes: Emotional Response, Behavioral Response, Faith, Social Support, Team Cohesion, and Change of Life Perspective. The results suggest that student-athletes who experience the unexpected death of a teammate go through a wide range of emotional (e.g., shock, denial) and behavioral responses (e.g., deliberate isolation from others, tributes), which ultimately changed their perspective on life. The specific nuances of these experiences offer several practical applications for sport psychology consultants, coaches, and administrators wishing to provide support to this population during such a difficult time.