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An Investigation of the Social Support Experiences of High-Level Sports Performers

Tim Rees and Lew Hardy

Lack of consensus regarding the nature and conceptual definition of the social support construct has led to a plethora of different forms of measurement of this psychosocial variable, many with psychometric limitations. Beyond the psychometric limitations of some measures, in sport there is also a need for measures to be relevant to the specific experiences of sports performers. In order to gain a greater understanding of the social support experiences of sports people, 10 high-level sports performers were interviewed regarding their experiences of social support. Principles of the grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) approach were adopted for analysis of their responses and insights. Four dimensions of support were generated, within each of which were comments relating to sport-specific support and comments relating to support not directly concerning the sport itself. The dimensions were labeled emotional, esteem, informational, and tangible. Example quotes are given to highlight each dimension of support, and implications for intervention are derived.

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Social Support and Performance in a Golf-Putting Experiment

Tim Rees and Paul Freeman

This study examined the impact of a social support manipulation on performance. Participants with high and low levels of perceived support were randomly assigned to an experimental support or control condition, before completing a golf-putting task. Participants with high levels of perceived support performed at a higher level than those with low levels of perceived support. Participants in the support condition performed at a higher level than those in the control condition. A significant interaction was primarily attributable to the low perceived support participants in the support condition performing better than the low perceived support participants in the control condition. Participants in the support condition also experienced less frequent and distracting task-irrelevant thoughts compared with those in the control condition. These results suggest that experimentally manipulated support may lead to improvements in the performance of novices completing a golf-putting task, and that such support may be particularly important for those low in perceived support.

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The CSGU: A Measure of Controllability, Stability, Globality, and Universality Attributions

Pete Coffee and Tim Rees

This article reports initial evidence of construct validity for a four-factor measure of attributions assessing the dimensions of controllability, stability, globality, and universality (the CSGU). In Study 1, using confirmatory factor analysis, factors were confirmed across least successful and most successful conditions. In Study 2, following less successful performances, correlations supported hypothesized relationships between subscales of the CSGU and subscales of the CDSII (McAuley, Duncan, & Russell, 1992). In Study 3, following less successful performances, moderated hierarchical regression analyses demonstrated that individuals have higher subsequent self-efficacy when they perceive causes of performance as controllable, and/or specific, and/or universal. An interaction for controllability and stability demonstrated that if causes are perceived as likely to recur, it is important to perceive that causes are controllable. Researchers are encouraged to use the CSGU to examine main and interactive effects of controllability and generalizability attributions upon outcomes such as self-efficacy, emotions, and performance.

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The PASS-Q: The Perceived Available Support in Sport Questionnaire

Paul Freeman, Pete Coffee, and Tim Rees

This article provides initial evidence for the construct validity of the Perceived Available Support in Sport Questionnaire (PASS-Q), which assesses emotional, esteem, informational, and tangible support. In Study 1, confirmatory factor analyses provided evidence for a four-dimension factor structure. Correlations supported hypothesized relationships between the PASS-Q dimensions and the Social Support Survey questions (Richman, Rosenfeld, & Hardy, 1993). In Study 2, the four-dimension factor structure was supported in an independent sample. Further, higher levels of perceived available emotional, esteem, informational, and tangible support were associated with higher levels of self-confidence and lower levels of burnout. Researchers are encouraged to use the PASS-Q to examine the effects of perceived available support in sport contexts.

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The Influence of Social Support on the Lived Experiences of Spinal Cord Injured Sportsmen

Tim Rees, Brett Smith, and Andrew C. Sparkes

This study draws upon life history data to investigate the influence of social support on the lives of 6 men who had acquired a spinal cord injury and become disabled through playing sport. Interviews were analyzed utilizing categorical-content analysis (Lieblich, Tuval-Mashiach, & Zilber, 1998). The participants experienced emotional, esteem, informational, and tangible support (Rees & Hardy, 2000) from various sources. Alongside the positive influence of social support, examples are shown of inappropriate or negatively-experienced support and where participants considered sport to be lacking. The spinal cord injured person is encouraged to be proactive in resourcing social support, but providers might also be taught to recognize the impact, either positively or negatively, that their giving support can have.

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The Development of a Measure of Psychological Responses to Injury

Lynne Evans, Lew Hardy, Ian Mitchell, and Tim Rees


The current paper reports the initial development of a theoretically derived measure to assess the psychological responses of injured athletes.


The paper comprises two studies. The first examines the factorial validity of the Psychological Responses to Sport Injury Inventory (PRSII) originally reported by Evans, Hardy, and Mullen.1 The second reexamines the factorial validity of the PRSII following scale refinement. Confirmatory factor analysis was employed in both studies.


Sport injury clinics.


Study 1 comprised repeated observations (n = 486) on 56 injured athletes. Study 2 comprised single observations on 418 injured athletes.


Psychological Responses to Sport Injury Inventory (PRSII).


The five factor model from the first study demonstrated variable model fit. The six factor model that emerged from the second study showed improved model fit.


The study provides some support for the PRSII as a measure of athletes’ psychological responses to injury.

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Applying Generalizability Theory to Examine the Antecedents of Perceived Coach Support

Adam Howard Coussens, Tim Rees, and Paul Freeman

Although social support is integral to the coaching process, there is only a limited understanding of the antecedents of perceived coach support. We applied generalizability theory to examine perceived coach support and its antecedents at perceiver, provider, and relational levels of analysis. Two studies were conducted in which athletes rated the degree to which they identified with a selection of coaches, and the personality, competency, and supportiveness of those coaches. Univariate analyses demonstrated that the relational component accounted for a significant amount of variance in perceived coach support in both studies. Multivariate analyses demonstrated that when athletes perceive specific coaches to be highly agreeable, competent, and individuals with whom they share a common identity, they also perceive these same coaches to be particularly supportive in comparison with other coaches.

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Three Generalizability Studies of the Components of Perceived Coach Support

Tim Rees, Paul Freeman, Steve Bell, and Ross Bunney

Coaches are important providers of social support, but what influences us to perceive our coaches as supportive or unsupportive? We investigated the extent to which perceptions of coach support reflect characteristics of athletes and coaches, as well as relational components. In three studies, athletes judged the actual or hypothetical supportiveness of various coaches. The methods of generalizability theory permitted us to conclude that perceptions of coach support primarily reflected relational components, with characteristics both of athletes and coaches also independently playing (lesser) roles. These findings suggest that athletes may systematically disagree on the supportiveness of their coaches.

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The ARSQ: The Athletes’ Received Support Questionnaire

Paul Freeman, Pete Coffee, Tjerk Moll, Tim Rees, and Nadine Sammy

To address calls for context-specific measurement of social support, this article reports the development of the Athletes’ Received Support Questionnaire (ARSQ) and demonstrates initial evidence for its validity. Across four studies there was support for a four-dimensional structure reflecting emotional, esteem, informational, and tangible received support. There was also support for unidimensional and higher-order models. Further, Study 3 provided some support for convergent validity, with significant correlations between the corresponding dimensions of the ARSQ and the Inventory of Socially Supportive Behaviors. Study 4 provided evidence for the nomological validity of the ARSQ. Emotional and esteem support significantly predicted self-confidence and positive affect, and tangible support significantly moderated the relationship between stress and negative affect. Collectively, these results provide initial evidence for the validity of the ARSQ, and offer researchers flexibility to adopt either a multidimensional or aggregated approach to measuring received support.

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The Digest

Walter Bixby, Shauna Burke, Kim Gammage, Scott Martin, Meghan McDonough, Tim Rees, Catherine Sabiston, Martyn Standage, Ralph Maddison, and Mark Uphill

Edited by Mark Beauchamp