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The Relationship of Resilience, Self-Compassion, and Social Support to Psychological Distress in Women Collegiate Athletes During COVID-19

Matthew Mikesell, Trent A. Petrie, Tsz Lun (Alan) Chu, and E. Whitney G. Moore

Given how COVID-19 had caused significant increases in collegiate athletes’ psychological distress, we examined the extent to which such distress may have been ameliorated by the athletes’ psychosocial resources (e.g., resilience). We used structural equation modeling to examine the direct and indirect relationships of resilience, self-compassion, and social support to women collegiate athletes’ (N = 3,924; 81.2% White) psychological distress; athletes completed measures of these constructs from mid-April to mid-May 2020. Analyses revealed significant direct effects: More supported (β = −0.12 to −0.19), self-compassionate (β = −0.48 to −0.53), and resilient (β = −0.21 to −0.35) athletes experienced less psychological distress (R 2 = .61–.65). Further, self-compassion and social support were related indirectly (and inversely) to psychological distress through higher levels of resilience. These psychosocial resources appear to have played a positive role in how athletes coped with the pandemic, being associated with less psychological distress. These findings have application beyond the pandemic, providing direction for how sport psychology professionals may assist athletes in maintaining their well-being.