Adolescent soccer players experience many stressors and negative stress-related outcomes. Short-term stress-prevention programs are frequently implemented in youth sports, although there is limited evidence of their usefulness and effectiveness. Thus, the present study evaluated the usefulness and effectiveness of a stress-prevention workshop for adolescent soccer players. Ninety-two soccer players (age: M = 15.5 years, SD = 1.43; 31.5% female) were randomly allocated to either an intervention group or an intervention control group. To evaluate effectiveness, stress, coping, and depression were assessed at baseline (t1) and 4 weeks postworkshop (t2). To investigate usefulness, the perceived quality of results was assessed at t2. No intervention effects on stress, coping, and depression emerged, but both groups exhibited high values regarding perceived quality of results. Although one workshop might not be enough to modify stress-related parameters, it may be useful for adolescent soccer players and pave the way for long-term interventions.
One Shot—No Hit? Evaluation of a Stress-Prevention Workshop for Adolescent Soccer Players in a Randomized Controlled Trial
Johanna Belz, Jens Kleinert, and Moritz Anderten
Screening of Depression and Mental Health in Elite Youth Sports: Differences in Risk Estimation Between the PHQ-2 and the WHO-5
Jens Kleinert, Jeannine Ohlert, and Marion Sulprizio
This study aims to examine whether the risk for depression differs between using a disease- and a health-oriented instrument in elite youth sport and to uncover relationships of risk with concern to age, sex, type of sport, and level of performance. A sample of 549 eleven- to twenty-one-year-old elite athletes were screened using the German versions of the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 (PHQ-2) and the WHO Well-Being Index-5 (WHO-5). For external validity, the state of physical well-being and mood state, as well as recovery measures, were assessed. The proportions of athletes at high risk for mental health problems were 11.3% (PHQ-2) and 12.8% (WHO-5) of the participants. Young athletes (<15 years old) and male athletes showed lower risk values compared with older or female athletes. Moreover, PHQ-2 and WHO-5 values correlated with physical well-being and subjective sleep parameters. Both instruments were practical and diagnostically conclusive. Further studies on the validation of the instruments are recommended.
Minimising the Risk of Coach Burnout: From Research to Practice
Sebastian Altfeld, Paul Schaffran, Jens Kleinert, and Michael Kellmann
Paid coaches have to regularly deal with a range of potential stressors in the workplace. These stressors may include emotional and physical demands caused by the complex nature of coaching work. Many coaches have developed useful strategies to cope with these demands. Nevertheless, unexpected changes within the dynamic environment in which they typically operate (e.g., injury, public scrutiny, social media), problems with members of the board or management, continuous negative performance results, or personal factors may challenge the adequacy of coaches’ coping mechanisms. This inability to cope with these stresses can lead to a state of chronic stress. If that state manifests permanently, it can result in a state of emotional exhaustion, ultimately leading to coach burnout. The aim of this article is to define the burnout phenomenon and to provide a clear description of the triggering factors. Furthermore, ideas are presented to guide how coaches can protect themselves and how officials (club or association management) can reduce coaches’ burnout.
Risk for Depression and Psychological Well-Being in German National and State Team Athletes—Associations With Age, Gender, and Performance Level
Johanna Belz, Jens Kleinert, Jeannine Ohlert, Thea Rau, and Marc Allroggen
Adolescence is a vulnerable period for the development of depression. Research on depression in athletes including adolescent athletes, however, is scarce. The purpose of the present study was to assess the risk for depression depending on the athletes’ age, gender, and performance level. Data were collected from 1,799 German national and state team athletes. The PHQ-2 and the WHO-5 were administered to assess the athletes’ risk for depression and current state of psychological well-being. Overall, 13% of the athletes were screened positive for depression and 10% for impaired well-being. Adolescents, females and athletes of junior national teams showed a higher risk for depression and/or lower well-being than other subgroups. The finding that adolescent athletes are more vulnerable to suffer from depressive symptoms than adult athletes mirrors finding in the general population. Screening tools for depression should be followed up by clinical expert interviews to provide an external criterion for the obtained results.
Appraisal in a Team Context: Perceptions of Cohesion Predict Competition Importance and Prospects for Coping
Svenja A. Wolf, Mark A. Eys, Pamela Sadler, and Jens Kleinert
Athletes’ precompetitive appraisal is important because it determines emotions, which may impact performance. When part of a team, athletes perform their appraisal within a social context, and in this study we examined whether perceived team cohesion, as a characteristic of this context, related to appraisal. We asked 386 male and female intercollegiate team-sport athletes to respond to measures of cohesion and precompetitive appraisal before an in-season game. For males and females, across all teams, (a) an appraisal of increased competition importance was predicted by perceptions of higher task cohesion (individual level), better previous team performance, and a weaker opponent (team level) and (b) an appraisal of more positive prospects for coping with competitive demands was predicted by higher individual attractions to the group (individual level). Consequently, athletes who perceive their team as more cohesive likely appraise the pending competition as a challenge, which would benefit both emotions and performance.
Dietary Supplement Use among Elite Young German Athletes
Hans Braun, Karsten Koehler, Hans Geyer, Jens Kleinert, Joachim Mester, and Wilhelm Schänzer
Little is known about the prevalence and motives of supplement use among elite young athletes who compete on national and international levels. Therefore, the current survey was performed to assess information regarding the past and present use of dietary supplements among 164 elite young athletes (16.6 ± 3.0 years of age). A 5-page questionnaire was designed to assess their past and present (last 4 weeks) use of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrate, protein, and fat supplements; sport drinks; and other ergogenic aids. Furthermore, information about motives, sources of advice, supplement sources, and supplement contamination was assessed. Eighty percent of all athletes reported using at least 1 supplement, and the prevalence of use was significantly higher in older athletes (p < .05). Among supplement users, minerals, vitamins, sport drinks, energy drinks, and carbohydrates were most frequently consumed. Only a minority of the athletes declared that they used protein/amino acids, creatine, or other ergogenic aids. Major motives for supplement use were health related, whereas performance enhancement and recommendations by others were less frequently reported. Supplements were mainly obtained from parents or by athletes themselves and were mostly purchased in pharmacies, supermarkets, and health-food stores. Among all athletes, only 36% were aware of the problem of supplement contamination. The survey shows that supplement use is common and widespread among German elite young athletes. This stands in strong contrast to recommendations by leading sport organizations against supplement use by underage athletes.
Examining the Presence of Back Pain in Competitive Athletes: A Focus on Stress and Recovery
Jahan Heidari, Johanna Belz, Monika Hasenbring, Jens Kleinert, Claudia Levenig, and Michael Kellmann
Context: Explanatory approaches for back pain (BP) in athletes focus on biomechanical factors while neglecting psychological perspectives. Psychological factors have gained importance in the prediction of injuries in athletes and BP in the general population, with stress and recovery emerging as central risk factors. However, scarce evidence exists regarding the role of these aspects for the prevalent burden of BP. Objective: To investigate the association between stress and recovery parameters and the presence of BP. Design: Cross-sectional design. Setting : The questionnaires were distributed after the training sessions. Participants: A total of 345 competitive athletes (mean age = 18.31 y [SD = 5.40]) were investigated. The classification of the athletes’ competitive status was based on performance level. Interventions: Data were collected using questionnaires for the assessment of stress, recovery, and BP. Main Outcome Measures: The authors performed a multiple logistic regression to obtain odds ratios for stress and recovery parameters with regard to the outcome variable BP status. Results: For stress, the dimension “overall stress” (odds ratio = 1.83; 95% confidence interval, 1.30–2.59; P = .001) and the scale “physical complaints” (odds ratio = 1.68; 95% confidence interval, 1.25–2.25; P = .001) of the general version of the Recovery-Stress Questionnaire resulted to be significantly associated with BP. None of the recovery-related scales displayed a statistically significant relationship with BP. Conclusion: The outcomes of this study imply a modest association between stress and the presence of BP in competitive athletes. Practitioners may take these findings into account regarding the conception of training and for monitoring purposes.
Body Image in Athletes and Nonathletes With Low Back Pain: Avoidance–Endurance-Related Subgroups and Sports Status Play a Role
Claudia G. Levenig, Michael Kellmann, Jens Kleinert, Johanna Belz, Tobias Hesselmann, Jahan Heidari, and Monika I. Hasenbring
Context: Low back pain (LBP) is a serious health problem, both in the general population as well as in athletes. Research has shown that psychosocial aspects, such as dysfunctional pain responses, play a significant role in the chronification of LBP. Recent research supports the relevance of the multidisciplinary concept of body image in the interpretation of LBP. Objective: To examine the differences in 2 psychosocial aspects, body image and pain responses, between athletes and nonathletes with LBP. Design: Cross-sectional design. Setting: The questionnaires were distributed in the course of LBP treatment. Participants: Data from 163 athletes (mean age = 28.69 [9.6] y) and 75 nonathletes (mean age = 39.34 [12.63] y) were collected. Interventions: Data were collected by questionnaires assessing body image, pain behavior, training activity, and LBP. Main Outcome Measures: To examine group differences between athletes and nonathletes regarding body image and pain behavior, the authors performed 2-way analyses of variance with Bonferroni post hoc tests. Results: The results showed (1) a significant main effect regarding pain responses and body image, showing that participants with eustress endurance or adaptive pain behavior revealed a more positive body image in both groups compared with participants with distress endurance or fear-avoidance behavior, and (2) a significant main effect for the factor group in the body image dimension of physical efficacy, indicating a more positive body image for athletes. Conclusion: These results suggest that considering multiple risk factors for LBP, such as body image and dysfunctional pain behavior, as well as subgrouping, might be valuable for research and for broadening therapy options.
Group Dynamics in Sports: An Overview and Recommendations on Diagnostic and Intervention
Jens Kleinert, Jeannine Ohlert, Bert Carron, Mark Eys, Deborah Feltz, Chris Harwood, Lother Linz, Roland Seiler, and Marion Sulprizio
Working with teams and training groups is a common and major challenge for applied sport psychologists. This document is a position statement on the rationales, methods, and procedures of team-focused approaches in the practice of sport psychology. Furthermore, practice recommendations and research desiderata are discussed. To develop the paper, a consensus conference with nine experts from North America and Europe was held in Spring 2010. First, the paper presents the rationale for team-focused interventions and addresses the concepts of team cohesion, team efficacy, team potency, and a task involving leadership style. Second, the contributions of sport psychologists to enhancing group functioning are discussed, including methods for enhancing interpersonal skills, team climate, and coach athlete relationships. Third, determinants of how sport psychologists decide procedure and build trust in working with teams are articulated. Finally, the consensus group recommends an intensified effort to examine the effects and practice applicability of theory-driven, ecologically valid interventions.