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Paul A. Sellars, Lynne Evans and Owen Thomas

This study examined the perfectionism experiences of 10 elite perfectionist athletes (5 male and 5 female). Following completion of the Sport Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale-2 (Gotwals & Dunn, 2009), a purposeful sample of unhealthy perfectionists were interviewed in relation to the study aims. Several themes emerged from the data that related to: effects of perfectionism and its antecedents on sporting experiences, specificity and level of perfectionism, and the coping skills and techniques used to counter the potentially detrimental effects of perfectionism. The findings highlighted the multidimensional nature of perfectionism and the need for future research to further explore the efficacy of techniques athletes use to promote healthy and reduce unhealthy facets of perfectionism.

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John K. Gotwals

This study investigates the functional nature of perfectionism in sport through a person-oriented comparison of healthy and unhealthy perfectionist athletes’ levels of burnout. A sample of 117 intercollegiate varsity student-athletes (M age = 21.28 years, SD = 2.05) completed measures that assessed multidimensional sport-based perfectionism and athlete burnout indices (i.e., reduced accomplishment, sport devaluation, and emotional/physical exhaustion). Cluster analysis revealed that the sample could be represented by four theoretically meaningful clusters: Parent-Oriented Unhealthy Perfectionists, Doubt-Oriented Unhealthy Perfectionists, Healthy Perfectionists, and Non-Perfectionists. Intercluster comparisons revealed that healthy perfectionists reported (a) lower levels on all athlete burnout indices in comparison with both doubt-oriented unhealthy perfectionists and nonperfectionists and (b) lower levels of emotional/physical exhaustion in comparison with parent-oriented unhealthy perfectionists (all ps < .05). The degree to which findings fit within perfectionism/burnout theory and can serve as an example for research with enhanced relevancy to applied sport psychology contexts is discussed.

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Klaudia M. Sapieja, John G.H. Dunn and Nicholas L. Holt

Although perfectionist orientations have been linked to a variety of cognitive, affective, and behavioral correlates in youth sport, little is known about antecedent factors that may influence adolescent athletes’ perfectionist orientations. The purpose of this study was to determine whether perceptions of parenting styles differ as a function of adolescent athletes’ perfectionist orientations. A total of 194 male youth soccer players (M age = 13.64 years; SD = 1.51; range, 10.67−16.25 years) completed measures of their perfectionist orientations in sport and of their perceptions of maternal and paternal parenting styles. Scores from the parenting style measure were calculated such that higher scores were reflective of higher parental authoritativeness (as perceived by the athletes). Cluster analyses conducted on perfectionism responses produced independent clusters of unhealthy perfectionists, healthy perfectionists, and nonperfectionists. MANOVA results revealed that both healthy- and nonperfectionists had significantly higher perceptions of maternal and paternal authoritativeness than unhealthy perfectionists (ps < .005). Results indicate that exposure to heightened authoritative parenting may play a role in developing healthy perfectionist orientations (or decrease the likelihood of developing unhealthy perfectionist orientations) in youth sport.