How Women Varsity Athletes High in Self-Compassion Experience Unexpected Stressors Surrounding Competition

  • Author / Creator
    Sereda, Benjamin
  • Athletes appraise unexpected stressors as more threatening than expected stressors (Dugdale et al., 2002) and women varsity athletes have reported experiencing a high proportion of unexpected competition-related stressors (Holt et al., 2007). Self-compassion appears to promote adaptive appraisals and coping in women athletes (Mosewich et al., 2019), and a self-compassionate perspective may aid athletes in navigating the experience of unexpected stressors. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to explore how women varsity athletes high in self-compassion experience unexpected stressors. More specifically, the research questions are: 1) What characteristics contribute toward stressors being classified as unexpected? 2) How do women varsity athletes high in self-compassion appraise unexpected stressors surrounding competition? 3) How do women varsity athletes high in self-compassion attempt to cope with unexpected stressors surrounding competition? 4) How do women varsity athletes high in self-compassion prepare for future unexpected stressors surrounding competition? Based on Self-Compassion Scale scores (Neff, 2003), seven women varsity athletes (Mage = 19.43 years, SD = 1.40 years) high in self-compassion (M = 3.83, SD = 0.48) were purposefully sampled to participate in one-on-one semi-structured interviews. Through an interpretive description framework (Thorne, 2016), themes were created around appraising and coping with unexpected stressors. Athletes reported stressors as unexpected if the stressors were relatively unfamiliar and/or misaligned with their expectations. Athletes drew on past experiences, an adaptive perspective toward sport, and logical appraisal patterns when evaluating unexpected stressors. Further, five themes were developed that illustrate coping efforts: Emotional Self-Awareness to Support Coping, Realizing the Experiences of Significant Others in Sport, Use of Established Social Network, (Pro)Active Coping Efforts, and Direction of Attention to (Re-)Engage. It appears that varsity women athletes high in self-compassion possess resources that enable them to effectively navigate unexpected stressors. To support athletes in managing unexpected stressors, athletes should be encouraged to reflect on past experiences, embrace a logical and adaptive perspective when appraising stressors, foster emotion regulation strategies, and support efforts to actively engage, proactively or reactively, with unexpected stressors.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2020
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
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