Perfectionism in sports has been shown to predict longitudinal changes in athlete burnout. What mediates these changes over time, however, is still unclear. Adopting a self-determination theory perspective and using a three-wave longitudinal design, the current study examined perfectionistic strivings, perfectionistic concerns, autonomous motivation, controlled motivation, and athlete burnout in 141 junior athletes (mean age = 17.3 years) over 6 months of active training. When multilevel structural equation modeling was employed to test a mediational model, a differential pattern of between- and within-person relationships emerged. Whereas autonomous motivation mediated the negative relationship that perfectionistic strivings had with burnout at the between- and within-person level, controlled motivation mediated the positive relationship that perfectionistic concerns had with burnout at the between-persons level only. The present findings suggest that differences in autonomous and controlled motivation explain why perfectionism predicts changes in athlete burnout over time.
Daniel J. Madigan, Joachim Stoeber, and Louis Passfield
Daniel J. Madigan, Joachim Stoeber, and Louis Passfield
Perfectionism in sports has been shown to be associated with burnout in athletes. Whether perfectionism predicts longitudinal changes in athlete burnout, however, is still unclear. Using a two-wave cross-lagged panel design, the current study examined perfectionistic strivings, perfectionistic concerns, and athlete burnout in 101 junior athletes (mean age 17.7 years) over 3 months of active training. When structural equation modeling was employed to test a series of competing models, the best-fitting model showed opposite patterns for perfectionistic strivings and perfectionistic concerns. Whereas perfectionistic concerns predicted increases in athlete burnout over the 3 mon ths, perfectionistic strivings predicted decreases. The present findings suggest that perfectionistic concerns are a risk factor for junior athletes contributing to the development of athlete burnout whereas perfectionistic strivings appear to be a protective factor.
J.D. DeFreese, Daniel J. Madigan, and Henrik Gustafsson
Tracy C. Donachie, Andrew P. Hill, and Daniel J. Madigan
Perfectionism is related to precompetition emotions in athletes. However, it is unclear why this is the case. In the present study, the authors sought to determine whether perfectionistic cognitions explain this relationship and mediate the relationships between self-oriented perfectionism (SOP), socially prescribed perfectionism (SPP), and general precompetition emotions and multidimensional anxiety and anger. The authors adopted a three-wave longitudinal design and examined between- and within-person effects in a sample of 352 youth footballers (M age = 14.03 years, SD = 2.30). At the between-person level, perfectionistic cognitions mediated the relationships between SOP, SPP, and all general precompetition emotions plus multidimensional anxiety and anger. At the within-person level, perfectionistic cognitions mediated the relationships between SOP, SPP, and general anxiety and anger plus multidimensional anxiety and anger. Our findings imply that athletes higher in SOP and SPP experience more anxiety and anger when the frequency of perfectionistic cognitions increases in the lead-up to competition.
Dean R. Watson, Andrew P. Hill, and Daniel J. Madigan
Attitudes toward help-seeking will contribute to whether athletes ask for support for performance and mental health issues when needed. While research outside of sport has found perfectionism is related to negative attitudes toward help-seeking, no studies have examined the relationship in sport. The authors provided the first test of whether perfectionism predicted attitudes toward both sport psychology support and mental health support. One hundred and sixty-six collegiate athletes completed measures of perfectionism and attitudes toward sport psychology support and mental health support. Multiple regression analyses revealed that perfectionistic concerns positively predicted closedness and stigma toward sport psychology support and mental health support, and negatively predicted help-seeking toward mental health support. However, perfectionistic strivings negatively predicted stigma toward sport psychology support and mental health support, and positively predicted confidence in sport psychology support and help-seeking toward mental health support. Athletes higher in perfectionistic concerns are less likely to seek support when required.
Daniel J. Madigan, Thomas Curran, Joachim Stoeber, Andrew P. Hill, Martin M. Smith, and Louis Passfield
Perfectionism predicts cognitions, emotions, and behaviors in sport. Nonetheless, our understanding of the factors that influence its development is limited. The authors sought to address this issue by examining the role of coach and parental pressure in the development of perfectionism in sport. Using 3 samples of junior athletes (16–19 years; cross-sectional n = 212, 3-month longitudinal n = 101, and 6-month longitudinal n = 110), the authors examined relations between coach pressure to be perfect, parental pressure to be perfect, perfectionistic strivings, and perfectionistic concerns. Mini meta-analysis of the combined cross-sectional data (N = 423) showed that both coach pressure and parental pressure were positively correlated with perfectionistic strivings and perfectionistic concerns. In contrast, longitudinal analyses showed that only coach pressure predicted increased perfectionistic strivings and perfectionistic concerns over time. Overall, our findings provide preliminary evidence that coaches may play a more important role in the development of junior athletes’ perfectionism than parents.
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.
Daniel J. Madigan, Luke F. Olsson, Andrew P. Hill, and Thomas Curran
With the increasing prevalence of mental health difficulties in sport, athletes may be at greater risk of burnout than ever before. In the present study, we tested this possibility by examining whether average athlete burnout levels have changed over the past 2 decades, from 1997 to 2019. A literature search returned 91 studies (N = 21,012) and 396 effect sizes. Findings from cross-temporal meta-analysis suggested that burnout symptoms have increased over the past 2 decades. Specifically, we found that athletes’ mean levels of reduced sense of athletic accomplishment and sport devaluation have increased. As burnout symptoms are now typically higher among athletes than in the past, we can expect more athletes to be prone to the negative effects of burnout. Sport is therefore in urgent need of prevention and intervention strategies to stop and reverse this trend.
Daniel J. Madigan, Henrik Gustafsson, Andrew P. Hill, Kathleen T. Mellano, Christine E. Pacewicz, Thomas D. Raedeke, and Alan L. Smith
The present editorial provides a series of perspectives on the future of burnout in sport. Specifically, for the first time, seven burnout researchers have offered their opinions and suggestions for how, as a field, we can progress our understanding of this important topic. A broad range of ideas are discussed, including the relevance of the social context, the value of theory and collaboration, and the use of public health frameworks in future work. It is hoped that these perspectives will help stimulate debate, reinforce and renew priorities, and guide research in this area over the coming years.
Markus Gerber, Simon Best, Fabienne Meerstetter, Sandrine Isoard-Gautheur, Henrik Gustafsson, Renzo Bianchi, Daniel J. Madigan, Flora Colledge, Sebastian Ludyga, Edith Holsboer-Trachsler, and Serge Brand
Few studies have examined the association between sleep and burnout symptoms in elite athletes. We recruited 257 young elite athletes (M age = 16.8 years) from Swiss Olympic partner schools. Of these, 197 were reassessed 6 months later. Based on the first assessment, 24 participants with clinically relevant burnout symptoms volunteered to participate in a polysomnographic examination and were compared with 26 (matched) healthy controls. Between 12% and 14% of young elite athletes reported burnout symptoms of potential clinical relevance, whereas 4–11% reported clinically relevant insomnia symptoms. Athletes with clinically relevant burnout symptoms reported significantly more insomnia symptoms, more dysfunctional sleep-related cognitions, and spent less time in bed during weeknights (p < .05). However, no significant differences were found for objective sleep parameters. A cross-lagged panel analysis showed that burnout positively predicted self-reported insomnia symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral interventions to treat dysfunctional sleep-related cognitions might be a promising measure to reduce subjective sleep complaints among young elite athletes.