For athletes, competing in elite sport can be a stressful experience. A host of studies over the past 30 years have explored stressors among elite athletes across multiple sports and a range of competition levels to better understand the demands athletes experience throughout their careers (e
Lewis King, Sarah Jane Cullen, Jean McArdle, Adrian McGoldrick, Jennifer Pugh, Giles Warrington, and Ciara Losty
Ella McLoughlin, Rachel Arnold, Paul Freeman, James E. Turner, Gareth A. Roberts, David Fletcher, George M. Slavich, and Lee J. Moore
Greater lifetime stressor exposure has been related to more mental (e.g., depression; Slavich et al., 2019 ) and physical (e.g., respiratory infections; Cazassa et al., 2020 ) health complaints. One population of particular interest is sport performers, given that the sporting environment imposes
Melissa G. Hunt, James Rushton, Elyse Shenberger, and Sarah Murayama
College students often rank stress as the number one health impediment to academic performance ( American College Health Association, 2008 ) and a significant factor in overall well-being ( Brougham, Zail, Mendoze, & Miller, 2009 ). Amongst college students, 80% have historically reported at least
Jeffrey J. Martin, Betty Kelley, and Robert C. Eklund
The purpose of this investigation was to examine stress and burnout in athletic directors. Using Kelley’s (1994) original model we hypothesized that stress mediated the influence of social support, hardiness, and career issues on burnout. A second model, based on Smith’s (1986) contentions, allowed stress predictors to directly influence burnout in addition to influencing burnout through stress. Structural equation modeling (SEM) analyses supported the respecified model over Kelley’s (1994) original model. Athletic directors with a tendency to find career issues stressful, and who were low in hardiness, experienced elevated stress and burnout. Specifically, stress predictors had a direct influence on burnout, as well as an indirect influence through stress. Descriptive data classified athletic directors as enduring greater levels of emotional exhaustion than depersonalization and personal accomplishment.
Eileen Udry, Daniel Gould, Dana Bridges, and Suzie Tuffey
It is often assumed that important others can play significant roles in reducing stress among athletes. However, little attention has been given to (a) what specifically these important others say or do to reduce stress (empathize vs. motivate), and (b) how prevalent various types (positive vs. negative) of interactions are. This investigation attempted to fill this void. In-depth retrospective interviews were conducted with athletes who experienced burnout (n = 10) or season-ending injuries (n = 21). Inductive analysis revealed that athletes’ evaluations of the specific behaviors of important others tended to vary according to the stress (burnout vs. injury) experienced. Additionally, frequency analysis revealed that athletes described their interactions with important others as negative more often than as positive. The findings are discussed in relation to current conceptualizations of social interactions.
Betty C. Kelley, Robert C. Eklund, and Michelle Ritter-Taylor
The purpose of this investigation was to examine stress and burnout among collegiate tennis coaches. Three alternative models of stress-mediated relationships between personal/situational variables (hardiness, coaching issues, competitive level, gender, trait anxiety, initiating and consideration leadership styles) and burnout among men (n = 163) and women (n = 98) collegiate head tennis coaches were examined. Preliminary analysis revealed that the tennis coaches in this investigation were suffering from levels of burnout similar to those of other helping professionals working in higher education (Maslach & Jackson, 1986). A gender-by-competition-level (2 × 2) MANOVA on study variables revealed a significant main effect for gender but not for competition level. The women had a higher tendency than the men did to find coaching issues stressful. Structural equation modeling revealed that the stress-mediation model, also featuring direct effects of personality/dispositional variables on burnout, accounted for observed relationships in data more adequately than the other alternative models did.
Yusuke Tabei, David Fletcher, and Kate Goodger
This study investigated the relationship between organizational stressors in sport and athlete burnout and involved a cross-cultural comparison of English and Japanese soccer players. Ninety-eight male players completed the Athlete Burnout Questionnaire (Raedeke & Smith, 2001) to determine levels of perceived burnout. Based on data reported in previous research, and the thresholds developed by Hodge, Lonsdale, and Ng (2008), 22 of the players were identified as exhibiting higher levels of perceived burnout. Nine members of this subsample (4 English and 5 Japanese players) were subsequently interviewed to explore the relationship between their experiences of burnout and the organizational stressors they encountered. Results revealed multiple demands linked to the dimensions of athlete burnout and identified specific organizational-related issues that players associated with the incidence of burnout. Cultural differences between English and Japanese players in terms of the prevalence and organizational stressors associated with burnout were also identified, with the main differences being the relationship with senior teammates and the coaching style.
Nicole Dubuc-Charbonneau and Natalie Durand-Bush
The purpose of this study was to implement and assess the impact of a person-centered, feel-based self-regulation intervention on the stress, burnout, well-being, and self-regulation capacity of eight university student-athletes experiencing burnout. This was warranted given the negative outcomes associated with athlete burnout, the scarcity of burnout research focusing on student-athletes, and the lack of intervention research addressing burnout in sport.
A mixed methods design including questionnaires administered at four time points during the athletic season, pre- and postintervention interviews, and multiple intervention sessions was used.
Repeated-measures ANOVAs revealed that stress and burnout levels significantly decreased, and well-being and self-regulation capacity levels significantly increased as the intervention progressed. The qualitative data supported these findings.
It appears that university student-athletes participating in this type of intervention can learn to effectively manage themselves and their environment to reduce adverse symptoms and improve optimal functioning.
Rachel Arnold and David Fletcher
The purpose of this study was to synthesize the research that has identified the organizational stressors encountered by sport performers and develop a taxonomic classification of these environmental demands. This study used a meta-interpretation, which is an interpretive form of synthesis that is suited to topic areas employing primarily qualitative methods. Thirty-four studies (with a combined sample of 1809 participants) were analyzed using concurrent thematic and context analysis. The organizational stressors that emerged from the analysis numbered 1287, of which 640 were distinct stressors. The demands were abstracted into 31 subcategories, which were subsequently organized to form four categories: leadership and personnel, cultural and team, logistical and environmental, and performance and personal issues. This meta-interpretation with taxonomy provides the most accurate, comprehensive, and parsimonious classification of organizational stressors to date. The findings are valid, generalizable, and applicable to a large number of sport performers of various ages, genders, nationalities, sports, and standards.
Wendy M. Rodgers, Camilla J. Knight, Anne-Marie Selzler, Ian L. Reade, and Gregory F. Ryan
The purposes of this study were to, (a) assess motivational experiences of performance enhancement tasks (PET) and administrative tasks (AT), and; (b) examine the relationships of emergent motivational experiences of each task type to coaches’ perceived stress and intentions to continue coaching. In total, 572 coaches completed an online survey, which assessed autonomy, competence, relatedness, and other characteristics of PET and AT, intentions to continue coaching, and perceived stress. Two separate exploratory factor analyses (EFA) were conducted, one for AT and one for PET. This was followed up with confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and SEM to examine relationships between emerging factors and stress and intentions. The factors generated for PET reflected ideas of autonomy, time conflict, and satisfaction, and for AT also included competence, effort, and job requirements. The resulting experiences of AT and PET appear to have different influences on stress and intentions, suggesting their distinction will be important in future work examining coach retention.