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Role of Psychological Skills Training in Increasing Athletic Pain Tolerance

Blair G. Whitmarsh and Richard B. Alderman

Endurance athletes have indicated that the ability to tolerate high levels of athletic pain accounted for much of their success (Egan, 1987). This study examined the role of stress inoculation training (SIT) in increasing athletic pain tolerance on an isometric quadriceps task. Athletes (N = 45) from the sports of rowing, cycling, and triathlon completed the study, which consisted of performing a wall sit for as long as possible in a pretest-posttest control group design. The results indicated that subjects receiving training in SIT significantly increased their tolerance time on the wall sit, F(4, 84) = 2.51, p < .048, as compared to the control. Consistent with other research (Vallis, 1984), there was no difference between subjects who received training in SIT and those who received training in only one component of SIT. The results suggest that SIT may assist athletes in tolerating higher levels of athletic pain during training and competition.