A Qualitative Exploration of Competition Stress in Athletics
University of Wales
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No study has considered the entire stress transaction in a specific sporting population to effectively assist performers in coping with stress based on an understanding of the sport-specific stressful experiences encountered. The purpose of this study was to explore the experience of competition stress in Athletics. Three elite male athletes (M age = 23, SD = 1) were interviewed with regard to their competitive experiences in the 2009 outdoor season after completing diary entries during the season. Content analysis revealed a total of 125 stressors were identified by the participants, with 94 unique performance (#PS = 77) and organisational (#OS = 17) stressors emerging from the interview transcripts. The results revealed two emergent themes, in-competition behaviours and competitive preparation, to compliment the framework presented by Mellalieu et al. (2009). In addition, insights into the transactions between the athletes and their environment and their attempts to cope were provided, as well as descriptions of specific experiences within performance. The experiences of these athletes have illuminated the stress transaction for future research to expand on, however, the findings of this study do not explain why, but rather provide insight into what happens and how individuals transact with their competitive environment. Therefore, further investigation is required to establish why individuals transact in this way and how interventions can be designed to alter the nature of the transaction.
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