South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation

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Strategies used by South African non-elite athletes to cope with the environmental stressors associated with endurance events

J W O'Neil, B J Steyn


The aim of this study was to determine the coping strategies that non-elite athletes
use to overcome environmental factors during endurance events. A sample of 53 nonelite
endurance athletes completed a questionnaire and interviews were conducted.
The research focused on exploring individual experiences as well as identifying
themes and patterns of behaviour during endurance events. The results indicated that
endurance athletes used basically three coping strategies (responses) that were
identified in the literature. The most frequently used strategy was to remove the
source of the stress followed by strategies that change the athlete's perception of the
stressor and lastly strategies that deal with the symptoms of the stressor. Most of the
endurance athletes perceive problems and challenges to be a positive experience. The
majority of endurance athletes have a positive perception of their own abilities and
regularly place themselves in situations of danger or extreme stress to test this
ability. This ability must, however, constantly be tested by participation in endurance
sport or other stressful situations. Previous successful participation in endurance
events or other stressful situations leads to an increase in positive self-perception of
own abilities, as well as an increase in performance in endurance events.

Keywords: Endurance events; Stress; Environmental stressors; Coping strategies

South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation Vol. 29 (2) 2007: pp. 99-108

AJOL African Journals Online