STRESS AS A PROCESS NOT A PRODUCT IN NON-ELITE GOLFERS DURING COMPETITION
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Informed by Lazarus and Folkmans transactional model of stress and coping (1984) and Lazarus’s cognitive-motivational-relational-theory (1991), the investigation holistically explored the stress process of five non- elite golfers during competition. An ecologically valid method involved mini-booklets being completed during competition and the completion of diaries post performance. The performance related data gained from these two instruments formed the basis for semi-structured interviews to be conducted upon. Following content analysis, the findings showed that non-elite golfers encountered both performance (expectations, opponents, preparation and technical) and organisational stressors (organisation and environment). Participants found the difficult weather conditions to be the most stressful. In response to these many stressors, positive (challenge and benefit) and negative appraisals (harm/loss and threat) were reported with the majority of appraisals being interpreted as negative. Surprisingly however, the most cited appraisal was in fact positive, as participants often used the evaluation of plenty more holes left. Both positive and negative (thoughts and feelings) emotions were generated throughout the game as a result of these stress appraisals. The participants experienced a greater amount of negative emotions with the most frequent emotion cited being anger. Coping strategies to stressors were classified as problem-focused, emotion-focused and avoidance. Participants adopted equal amounts of problem-focused and emotion-focused strategies, with self-talk being the most frequently used coping strategy by non-elite golfers. The findings suggest that stress is an on-going process within non-elite golfers during competition. Practical implications for non-elite players include raising awareness of the variety of stressors that can influence their competitive games and the need to consider self-talk as an effective strategies. Coaches need to support and help develop practical interventions based upon positive stress appraisals and self-talk coping strategies to educate and optimize positive experiences for the non-elite golfer in competitive games.
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