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African Journal for Physical Activity and Health Sciences

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An empirical study of university student-athletes’ strategies for coping with stress

Y van Zyl, J Surujlal, C Singh

Abstract


The growth in interest and participation in university sport is accompanied by a corresponding increase in the number of competitions or events that an athlete is able to participate in. Because of the increased demand for sport as a product, university studentathletes are subjected to higher levels of pressure which ultimately results in stress. Hence it is a common feature that athletes in competitive sports have to perform in stressful
situations. This study was conducted to assess the coping strategies utilised by university student-athletes. A purposive sample of 500 university student-athletes at selected athletic meetings was drawn, to ensure that the sample size is large enough to be representative of
university student-athletes, despite the fact that no record is maintained of this population. The Athletic Coping Skills Inventory-28 (ACSI-28), accompanied by a biographical questionnaire was administered. The data were analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (Version 16). Results were analysed descriptively. The majority of the
student athletes scored highly on the subscales of coping with adversity, peaking under pressure, goal setting and mental preparation, denoting that student-athletes stay positive, enthusiastic, perform well under pressure and are mentally prepared. The score for the subscale of concentration was moderate, which indicates that student-athletes may
occasionally find it difficult to focus on their sports. The subscale freedom from worry revealed that student-athletes are not completely free of anxiety. The majority of the studentathletes indicated that they are confident and motivated, giving their sports 100% attention. With reference to the subscale of coachability, it was found that student-athletes listen to advice and instructions from coaches but often feel upset, indicating that criticism is not always perceived as constructive.



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