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Coping, Social Support, and Emotion Regulation in Teams

Authors:
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Coping, Social Support, and Emotion Regulation in Teams
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Katherine A. Tamminen and Patrick Gaudreau
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Tamminen, K. A., & Gaudreau, P. (2014). Coping, social support, and emotion regulation in
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teams. In M. R. Beauchamp & M. A. Eys (Eds.), Group dynamics in exercise and sport
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psychology: Contemporary themes (2nd ed., pp.222-239). New York: Routledge.
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Introduction
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Social ties have been described as both assets and liabilities for athletes (1). On the one
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hand, social support is seen as a resource for athletes dealing with stressors in sport, and seeking
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social support is associated with positive outcomes for athletes including performance
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achievement, enhanced relationships with teammates, recovery from injury, protection from
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burnout, and task-oriented coping during competitions (2). On the other hand, athletes frequently
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report a range of stressors derived from social interactions or relationships that can lead to
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negative outcomes or unsuccessful performances. Examples of such stressors include coach and
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teammate conflicts, criticism from others, concerns about home life and friends, and conflicts
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with officials (3). The relationship between social support and coping is therefore complex:
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social interactions may contribute to athletes’ stressor appraisals, however social support can
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contribute to positive outcomes and successful performances. Emotions also play an important
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role in interactions between athletes and teammates, coaches, and other members of the team
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environment. Athletes’ emotions can be affected by the social environment of the team, and
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athletes’ emotional displays can impact teammates, coaches, and other members of the social
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environment (e.g., family members, spectators). Thus, athletes must manage their own emotions
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and cope with stressors to produce successful performance, yet athletes can also influence (and
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be influenced by) the emotions and coping of teammates, coaches, and others. By better
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understanding the dynamics of social support, coping, and emotion, we can advance theory about
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how athletes interact within the social context of a team and develop interventions to improve
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individual and team coping and emotion regulation.
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The purpose of this chapter is to review relevant literature regarding coping, social
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support, and emotion regulation processes in sport teams. We argue that in order to advance our
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understanding of coping in sport and provide useful advice for coaches and practitioners, it is
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important to consider the social context within which athletes’ coping is embedded. We present
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some emerging conceptual considerations from the sport psychology literature, and we make the
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distinction between intrapersonal and interpersonal perspectives of coping and emotion
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regulation. Intrapersonal perspectives of coping and emotion regulation focus on individual
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athletes’ perceptions of stressors, their emotions, coping, and outcomes (e.g., personal
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performance). Alternatively, an interpersonal approach focuses on how athletes’ stressors,
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coping, and emotion regulation are influenced by others, and how actions or emotional displays
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subsequently influence others. An interpersonal perspective also considers how athletes cope
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with stressors as a group, and this approach allows for the distinction between athletes’ coping in
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teams versus the collective coping of teams. Coping in teams is concerned with how each
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individual in a team copes and how this influences other individuals or group-level outcomes
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such as performance or cohesion. Coping of teams relates to athletes’ perceptions of how “we as
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a team are coping.” We propose a novel multilevel framework of coping that could both
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distinguish and integrate intrapersonal and interpersonal perspectives on social support, coping,
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and emotions, and we summarize with suggestions that can be used to inform team interventions
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in sport.
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Theory and Research
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Coping in Sport: Intrapersonal versus Interpersonal Perspectives
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Researchers in sport psychology have predominantly used the
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cognitive-motivational-relational theory (CMRT) proposed by Lazarus and his colleagues (4,5)
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for studying athletes’ stressor appraisals and coping. Within this theory, stressors refer to
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demands made on an individual that are appraised as taxing or exceeding his or her resources (6).
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Lazarus described coping as an ongoing process of constantly changing cognitive and behavioral
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efforts to manage appraised stressors (5). The emphasis on coping as a within-person process (4)
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has led to a large body of research focusing on intrapersonal processes that are associated with
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coping. For example, researchers have examined the different events or situations athletes
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appraise as stressors and how athletes respond to or cope with stressors, as well as examining
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outcomes associated with stressors and coping such as sport performance, goal achievement,
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affective states, sport commitment, injuries, and burnout (6). Stressors in sport can include
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concerns about personal performance, losing in competitions, referee decisions, opponent
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behaviors, injuries, game conditions (e.g., weather), and non-competitive stressors such as
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distractions and work-life balance concerns (6). According to Lazarus (4), stressors are evaluated
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via two appraisals of an event: a primary appraisal of the situation and whether it is relevant to
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the individual’s goals and values, and a secondary appraisal of what can be done about the
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situation. A stressor may be appraised as a challenge when the athlete perceives that he or she
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has the resources necessary to meet the demands of the situation, whereas a stressor may be
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perceived as a threat if the athlete does not have sufficient resources to manage the situation (7).
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Coping strategies within the CMRT are typically classified as problem- or
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emotion-focused (5). Problem-focused coping strategies used in sport settings include increasing
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effort, increasing attention, planning, seeking advice, and technical adjustments, whereas
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emotion-focused coping strategies are actions to regulate emotional stress resulting from the
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appraisal of a stressor (e.g., positive reappraisal, seeking emotional support, relaxation) (8).
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Avoidance (e.g., cognitive disengagement or physical withdrawal) has also been reported as an
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important dimension of coping among athletes (9). Another conceptualization of coping
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strategies in sport proposes a distinction between task-oriented coping (e.g., increased effort,
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relaxation, thought control), disengagement coping (e.g., venting, physical or mental
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disengagement), and distraction coping (e.g., mental distraction, focusing on other tasks) (10). Of
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particular importance, task-oriented coping crosses active forms of emotion-focused coping (e.g.,
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relaxation) and problem-focused coping (e.g., increased effort) because they both play an
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important role in directly dealing with the sources of stress and their resulting cognitive,
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emotional, and physiological reactions. Although no single coping strategy is universally
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effective or ineffective in managing sport stressors, it has been suggested that task-oriented
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coping is positively associated with subjective and objective measures of sport performance,
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while disengagement coping is negatively associated with sport performance (11,12).
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Although researchers have tended to focus on what individual athletes do to cope with
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stressors in sport, athletes’ stressors are often social in nature. Athletes’ stressor appraisals
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frequently stem from social interactions such as arguments or disagreements between teammates,
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being criticized or yelled at by parents or coaches, getting a bad call by an official, and
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interpersonal performance or relationship conflicts (1,13,14). In a recent systematic review of the
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team contact sport literature (e.g., rugby, ice hockey), Campo and colleagues (15) reported that
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the influence of others (e.g., negative relationships, criticism, teammates behaviors) was an
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antecedent of athletes negative emotions in over 58% of the studies they reviewed, whereas
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individual errors were reported in 52.9% of reviewed studies. These stressors have largely been
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explored from an intrapersonal perspective in order to try to understand how individual athletes’
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stressor appraisals contribute to sport experiences and performance.
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In terms of coping, athletes in team sports have been found to use a variety of coping
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strategies in response to appraised stressors (8,16,17). For example, Holt and Hogg (16) reported
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that female soccer players use cognitive, behavioral, and social coping strategies (e.g.,
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reappraisal, performance behaviors, blocking, and drawing on social resources) to deal with
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stressors. In a study of professional rugby players, Nicholls and colleagues (17) reported that
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problem-focused strategies represented 70% of the coping efforts reported by athletes over a
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28-day period, although fluctuations in the use of problem-, emotion-focused, and avoidance
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coping suggested that athletes’ coping changed in response to differences in appraised stressors.
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It appears that athletes from team sports report using problem-focused coping strategies most
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frequently, whereas emotion-focused and avoidance coping strategies are used less frequently
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(15). However, and probably even more important for understanding athletes’ coping from a
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group dynamics perspective, problem-focused coping includes actions such as seeking support,
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gathering information from coaches and teammates, and increasing communication (15), which
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can be shaped by and shape subsequent group processes and outcomes. For example, when an
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athlete seeks advice from teammates as a way of coping with poor performance, social bonds
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between team members may be reinforced through the act of communicating and sharing advice.
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Conversely, if an athlete withdraws or disengages from her teammates as a way of coping, her
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teammates may feel shut out or socially isolated and unable to help her cope with her
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performance problems. Thus, the ways in which an athlete attempts to cope can have social
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consequences for the team.
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Considering the widespread use of the CMRT, which conceptualizes appraisals, coping,
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and emotion at the level of the individual, it is not altogether surprising that sport researchers
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have primarily studied coping as an intrapersonal process. As noted by Nicholls and Polman (8)
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in their systematic review of the literature, much has been learned about how individual athletes
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cope with stressors and how different dimensions of coping are associated with personal
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characteristics of the athletes (e.g., age, gender, appraisals, cognitions, personality, motivation,
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goals) and with consequential athletic outcomes (e.g., affective states, goal attainment, burnout).
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Similarly, research in the broader field of psychology has primarily focused on intrapersonal
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processes rather than on the social and communal context within which coping takes place
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(18,19). However, this approach has been deemed untenable (19) since it does not take into
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account the importance of social relationships and interdependency that affects coping and
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emotion regulation. Thus, moving forward, we propose that integrating theoretical perspectives
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that emphasize interpersonal processes will increase our knowledge of the ways athletes actually
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cope within teams and the social consequences and outcomes of athletes’ coping. We provide a
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brief synopsis of the literature on social support and socio-contextual influences on athletes’
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coping before discussing theoretical perspectives that can inform emotion regulation and coping
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in teams.
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Social Support and Socio-Contextual Influences on Coping
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Social support is a multidimensional construct with structural, functional, and perceptual
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aspects (2,20). The structural aspect of social support refers to the existence and size of an
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athlete’s social network. The functional aspect of social support refers to the characteristics of
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the social exchanges between individuals (e.g., social support activities, message/content,
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frequency of interactions), while the perceptual aspect of social support refers to athletes’
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appraisals of the social support they experience. Perceptions of support may be further
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distinguished according to the athlete’s perceived availability of support versus received support
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(20). Perceived support availability refers to the perception that support would be available if
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needed, while received support refers to supportive behaviors actually provided to the athlete.
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There are different types of social support that athletes may experience, including emotional
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support (listening support, comfort, and security), informational support (advice and guidance),
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esteem support (increasing the athlete’s sense of competence), and tangible support (concrete
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assistance such as providing transportation or financial assistance) (2).
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Much of the research within sport has sought to understand when and from whom
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athletes seek support, and researchers have also focused on understanding how perceptions of
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received and perceived support are associated with relevant sport-related outcomes. Seeking
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social support has frequently been reported as a coping strategy among athletes dealing with
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stressors associated with sport such as injuries (21, 22), burnout (23), and performance problems
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(24). Social support has also been associated with successful performances among Olympic
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athletes (25), and both perceived support availability and received support have been shown to
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contribute to athletes’ self-confidence prior to an important sport competition (26). Additional
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research has found that athletes’ perceived support availability is positively associated with
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performance outcomes, and athletes who perceived high levels of esteem support reported higher
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perceptions of control over competitive situations and subsequently lower threat appraisals
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associated with competition (27). Perceived support (but not received support) has been shown to
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be associated with less burnout, a greater sense of accomplishment, positive appraisals of sport
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activities, and a greater sense of self-determined motivation among collegiate athletes (28).
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Similarly, researchers found that injured athletes who perceived greater available support were
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less likely to experience negative psychological responses including feelings of restlessness,
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isolation, and feeling cheated following injury (29). In terms of social support between
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teammates, further research has focused on how perceptions of emotional, esteem, informational,
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and tangible support from teammates are associated with athletes’ self-confidence (30). All four
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types of support were positively associated with increased self-confidence; however, athletes
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perceived that esteem and emotional support were most available from their teammates. Thus,
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social support appears to be important for athletes when facing stressors in sport, and this
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research demonstrates the importance of teammates in providing particular types of support.
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The body of research reviewed above provides valuable evidence that social support is
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associated with positive outcomes for athletes. However, as noted previously, many of the
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stressors athletes experience in sport are often linked in some way to social relationships and
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there has recently been a call for research that seeks to understand how both positive and
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negative interactions function to influence social support among athletes (28). Research
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examining social support has primarily focused on asking athletes when and from whom they
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seek support (22,27,29,30), with Bianco and Eklund (20, p92) noting that researchers have
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“virtually ignored” the effects of providing and receiving social support on relational outcomes,
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such as team cohesion and relationships between athletes, coaches, and physiotherapists. For
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example, in the future it may be pertinent to examine whether the provision of support to athletes
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strengthens relationships between teammates, or whether providing social support may at times
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be a burden to others.
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Beyond social support, additional research has examined the relationship between
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socio-contextual factors and coping of competitive athletes. It is important to pause in order to
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delineate the wide range of socio-contextual factors that could have an influence on the coping
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efforts of athletes. Sport organizations, coaches, and teammates can have both direct and indirect
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influences on how an athlete copes with the requirements of sport-related stressors. Furthermore,
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parents, sibling, friends, and agents also play pivotal roles in both the athletic and personal
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development of competitive athletes. Some researchers have highlighted the role of parents’
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influence on athletes’ coping in sport (31,32). For example, Lafferty and Dorrell (31) reported
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that competitive adolescent swimmers who perceived medium and high levels of support from
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their parents used more active coping (e.g., problem solving) and increased training to deal with
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stressors. Extending this work, Tamminen and Holt (32) conducted a study of adolescent
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athletes’ process of learning about coping in sport. The authors reported that parents attempted to
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help athletes learn to cope by initiating informal conversations about coping, reminding athletes
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about coping with past stressors, providing perspective about stressors, and by sharing personal
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experiences with their child. Despite this research examining parents’ influence on their child’s
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coping in sport, most research to date has mainly focused on the relationships between coaching
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behaviors (largely defined) and the coping behaviors of their athletes.
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The importance of good coachathlete relationships to promote optimal performance and
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well-being of athletes has often been highlighted by sport scientists (see Jowett and Felton, this
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volume). Supportive coaching can play a positive role by providing guidance in the goal-striving
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process and nurturing the development of physical, technical, tactical, and mental skills (33). By
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providing clear goals, plans, and instructions with positive feedback and encouragement,
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supportive coaching behaviors may act as a protective factor likely to promote well-being and
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effortful engagement by athletes during the goal-striving process (34). Supportive coaching can
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also operate as a social resource (35) likely to foster more effective ways of solving problems
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while helping athletes to become better equipped with a coping repertoire to manage stressors
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inherent in sport competitions. Supportive coaching in the form of social support (2), creating a
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task-involving motivational climate (36) (see also Harwood et al., this volume), and specific
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physical, technical, tactical, and mental behaviors (37) have been positively associated with the
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likelihood of using task-oriented coping strategies in competitive athletes.
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As delineated earlier in this chapter, coaches can sometimes become a potent source of
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stress for the athletes (38). Unsupportive coaching behaviors in the form of yelling,
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manipulating, threatening, intimidating, and upsetting athletes are likely to exacerbate the
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pressure of the competitive sport environment (39). Excessive performance pressure from
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coaches as well as favoritism and greater time spent with the best athletes (i.e., ego-involving
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climate) are important risk factors for athletes’ reduced well-being and impaired self-regulation
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(36). Perceived pressure in the forms of socially prescribed perfectionism (39), an ego-involving
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motivational climate (40), and negative personal rapport with the coaches (37) have been linked
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to an increased use of disengagement-oriented coping strategies in competitive athletes. Recent
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research examining the perceived supportiveness of coaches suggests that coaches’ behaviors are
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viewed as supportive by some athletes, but not by others. It appears that athletes have
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preferences for particular types of supportive behaviors to receive esteem support (e.g., having
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someone who reinforces positives and provides encouragement) and emotional support (e.g.,
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having someone who listens to concerns and talks things through [26]), although optimal
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provision of support may require a match between the provider and the receiver (41).
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Further research is needed to examine how major social agents influence the coping
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behaviors of athletes. Foremost, research using a more holistic approach is required to examine
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how complex mesosystemic interactions between different social agents can affect the coping of
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athletes above and beyond the respective direct influences of parents and coaches. For example,
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parents and coaches may experience interpersonal conflicts that could potentially harm how
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athletes cope with stressors in sport. With this in mind, research is required to understand how
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parentcoach interactions influence development of athletes and thereafter some of the group
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dynamics of teams. A developmentally sensitive approach is also warranted that examines the
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extent to which the effects of different socialization agents fluctuate across different stages of an
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athletes development (42) including childhood, adolescence, and emerging adulthood (43).
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Studies that consider interpersonal processes related to athletes’ coping have the potential to
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broaden our understanding of how athletes actually cope within the social context of a team and
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the impact that athletes’ coping has on teammates. Below we describe theory and research
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relating to interpersonal emotion regulation and communal coping that could inform future
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research and applied work among athletes.
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Interpersonal Emotion Regulation
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Interpersonal emotion regulation is concerned with how athletes regulate their own
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emotions as well as the way they regulate the emotions of their teammates and others around
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them (44). Emotions arise as a result of an athletes appraisal of his or her relationship with the
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social environment and are influenced by personal and situational factors (4). Emotions can be
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either positive (e.g., happiness, pride, relief) or negative (e.g., anger, anxiety, shame, guilt), and
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emotions are considered to be functional and adaptive in helping individuals to identify stressors,
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overcome problems, and achieve goals (45). Emotions can impact performance by influencing
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the physical, motivational, and cognitive functioning of athletes (46,47). Theorists argue that
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emotions are useful for forming and maintaining social relationships (45) and athletes’ displays
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of emotion can influence the perceptions and responses of others around them (47,48).
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There is some overlap between coping and emotion regulation: coping is defined as
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constantly changing “cognitive and behavioural efforts to manage specific external and/or
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internal demands that are appraised as taxing or exceeding the resources of the person” (5 p141).
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Coping consists of conscious or voluntary efforts to deal with appraised stressors or emotions,
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but coping efforts generally exclude involuntary or non-deliberate responses (e.g., yelling,
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crying) that are part of athletes’ emotional experience and expression (48,49). Emotion
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regulation is defined as the processes by which individuals influence which emotions they have,
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when they have them, and how they experience and express these emotions (50 p275) and it
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refers to the use of automatic or deliberate strategies aimed at decreasing, maintaining, or
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increasing one’s own emotional experiences, and also how emotions are displayed and the
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effects of emotional expression on others. Thus, coping is one part of an athlete’s overall
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emotional regulation repertoire, however, emotion regulation and coping can be conceived as
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being part of a self-regulatory system in which different types of strategies play distinct yet
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pivotal roles in helping individuals adapt to the demands of their ongoing interactions with the
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environment (6). The study of emotion regulation is useful for examining ways in which athletes
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suppress or augment both positive and negative emotions, and emotion regulation also takes into
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account involuntary or non-deliberate emotional responses (48,49). The term interpersonal
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emotion regulation refers to athletesverbal and non-verbal actions that influence other people's
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emotions (51). Interpersonal emotion regulation is concerned with questions such as how are
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emotions transmitted, received, and modified within groups and teams? and what effect does
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an individual athlete's emotion regulation have on other team members?
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Studies examining interpersonal processes of emotion regulation are relatively sparse
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compared with intrapersonal research examining athletes stressor appraisals, coping, and
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emotion regulation in sport (52). However there is some evidence that illustrates the impact of
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the team or group environment on athletes’ emotions and performance in sport. For example,
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Totterdell (53) examined emotional contagion among professional cricket players, which is a
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process whereby individuals consciously or unconsciously influence the emotions or behaviors
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of others (54). Totterdell found that athletes positive, happy moods were linked to the collective
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happy mood of their teammates, and the collective team mood was also associated with players
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subjective assessments of their own individual performances. Another study that examined
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emotional contagion among soccer players reported that behaviors associated with the display of
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pride after a successful penalty kick (e.g., both arms extended above head, hands made into fists)
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were associated with the team’s eventual success winning the shootout (55). These findings
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support previous research suggesting that body language and non-verbal communication affect
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interactions between athletes and their teammates, opponents, and coaches during competition
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(56,57).
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Drawing on the organizational psychology literature, Wagstaff, Fletcher, and Hanton (58)
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explored social dynamics and emotion regulation within a national sport organization to examine
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the processes by which individuals regulate their own and others’ emotions. Wagstaff and his
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colleagues reported that individuals perceived their emotion regulation was influenced by their
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own emotion abilities (e.g., their ability to identify, process, comprehend, and manage emotions)
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and the organization’s social norms regarding emotion expression. Individuals’ emotion
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regulation was thought to affect intrapersonal outcomes (e.g., individuals’ own behavior,
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motivation, and emotions) as well as interpersonal outcomes (e.g., relationships within the
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organization). An intervention using educational workshops to improve members’ emotion
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regulation abilities was effective in increasing regulation strategy use, perceptions of relationship
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quality, and closeness between members of the sport organization (59).
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Recent research has extended this line of work beyond administrative sport organizations
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and into a competitive team sport context. Tamminen and Crocker (60) conducted an
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ethnographic case study among a team of high-performance female curlers to further explore
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emotion regulation and interpersonal emotion regulation over the course of an entire season.
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Interviews and observations with the team demonstrated how athletes regulated their own
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emotions through body language and by using self-censorship to avoid upsetting teammates. The
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athletes also cued one another about their emotions (i.e., reminding teammates to breathe to
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reduce anxiety) and athletes regulated their teammates’ emotions with humor, positive feedback,
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prosocial actions (i.e., accommodating others’ needs by adjusting one’s own behaviors during
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competition), and through indirect actions (i.e., protecting teammates from potential stressors or
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direct criticism). Athletes expressed emotions differently depending on the context (e.g.,
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self-regulation of emotions in competition versus expressing emotions between teammates
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post-competition), and the authors also suggested that the team’s emotional regulation was
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related to the provision of support outside the team. For example, one athlete reported seeking
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support from her husband and coaches when dealing with stressors, and she avoided seeking
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support from teammates due to concerns that she should maintain an image of a leader on the
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team and to avoid ‘burdening’ her teammates with her stressors. The athletes also reported
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challenges in managing their own emotions while also attempting to help regulate their
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teammates’ emotions during competition.
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To summarize, some initial research has begun to explore interpersonal processes of
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emotion regulation in sport contexts, although further work is required to explore these processes
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within teams. For example, interpersonal emotion regulation between teammates may vary
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depending on the size of the team, or within teams with ‘lines’ or ‘units’ of players who perform
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together consistently during competitions (e.g., ice hockey or American football). Athletes’
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perceived roles on the team (e.g., leaders) may influence the extent to which they regulate
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teammates’ emotions, and research is required to determine whether athletes who regulate
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others’ emotions are also skilled at effectively regulating their own emotions. Furthermore, while
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it is logical that interpersonal emotion regulation should be theoretically related to team
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cohesion, additional research is required to examine this relationship. Finally, athletes’
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competitive experience, personality characteristics, preferences for providing and receiving
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support, and power dynamics (e.g., between coaches and athletes or between rookie and veteran
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players) are likely to influence interpersonal emotion regulation within teams, and these remain
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valuable areas for future research.
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Communal Coping
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Another theoretical perspective that may inform future research involving groups and
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teams is communal coping (61). Communal coping is a process whereby stressors are appraised
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and acted upon in the context of close relationships, and it describes the efforts of individuals in
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a group as they collectively cope with stressors (61). Communal coping occurs when a stressor is
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viewed by one or more individuals as our problem and not my or your problem, and
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individuals appraising the stressor share the responsibility for dealing with it. According to this
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perspective, one athlete may appraise a stressor that could indirectly impact other members of
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the team (e.g., if an athlete becomes injured or if an athlete has an argument with the coach), or
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the group members may all appraise a stressor directly (e.g., a team faces a particular opponent).
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Lyons and colleagues (61) described three components of communal coping: (a) group members
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holding a communal coping orientation, which is a belief that joining together to deal with a
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problem is beneficial, (b) communication about the stressor and the meaning of the situation for
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the group, and (c) cooperative action to construct strategies to deal with the stressor.
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There are several factors that could affect communal coping within a group or team (61).
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While communal coping is likely to occur in both well-established and recently established
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groups, the history and shared experiences of a team might facilitate communal coping,
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particularly in relation to communication about stressors. Furthermore, members of the group
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may have varying experience in dealing with particular stressors, which would suggest some
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members would adopt a leadership role in dealing with the stressor if they have previous
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experience with it. For example, veteran players may adopt a leadership role in dealing with
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team stressors associated with play-off games or championship games if they have previous
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experience performing at that level. Thus, communal coping may be initiated or sustained by
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leaders depending on the hierarchical structure of the group (e.g., if there is a defined leader
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within the team). The effects of communal coping in relation to adaptive emotional and
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behavioral outcomes may also be moderated by an individuals desire to maintain relationships
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(e.g., athletes may wish to avoid placing a burden on other members of the team and keep
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stressors to themselves). We suspect that additional factors such as group norms, cohesion,
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intra-team competition, and interpersonal conflicts between members and/or subgroups are also
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likely to influence communal coping in teams (i.e., main effects) and/or moderate the relation
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between communal coping and consequential team outcomes. For example, it is possible that
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athletes who perceive greater team identification may engage in more social sharing of their
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emotions with teammates, and teams with higher levels of team cohesion are likely to engage in
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more communal approaches to dealing with stressors as a group. Conversely, teams with more
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interpersonal conflicts between teammates should theoretically engage in less communal coping,
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however these propositions remain to be verified through future research.
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Communal coping has been posited as a construct for addressing concerns such as
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adolescent obesity (62), aging (63), and health behavior change (64). For example, a communal
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coping intervention that emphasized couples working together for smoking cessation was found
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to be effective in reducing smoking and contributed to long-term abstinence from smoking (65).
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The intervention consisted of ten consultations with couples to address the role of smoking in the
383
relationship, partners’ roles in smoking cessation, and to help partners collectively identify
384
18
difficulties in smoking cessation and jointly plan alternative rituals or activities. Research
385
examining psychosocial distress among sisters with breast and ovarian cancer found that
386
communal coping was negatively related to indices of distress among cancer patients (66).
387
Another study of patients with heart failure provided evidence of better health outcomes over six
388
months among those patients whose spouses used the terms ‘we’ and ‘ours’ more frequently
389
when discussing health problems (instead of the terms ‘mine’ and ‘yours’) (67). These findings
390
provide evidence that a communal coping orientation is useful for groups of individuals dealing
391
with stressors.
392
Lyons and colleagues noted that “the impact of communal coping is obvious in team
393
sport”(61 p592); however, to our knowledge no research to date has specifically examined
394
communal coping in sport contexts. One recent advancement is the concept of team resilience,
395
which is defined as a “dynamic, psychosocial process which protects a group of individuals from
396
the potential negative effect of stressors they collectively encounter whereby team members
397
use their individual and collective resources to positively adapt when experiencing adversity” (68
398
p552). Team resilience is conceptually similar to communal coping, and it emphasizes the
399
importance of interpersonal relationships for effective team functioning. Communal coping
400
approaches could extend the coping and social support literature by examining how teams come
401
together to deal with a shared stressor, and also by examining how communal coping efforts
402
reciprocally influence team members.
403
Future Research Directions
404
Mounting theoretical and empirical attention has already been allocated to the coping of
405
individuals who participate in competitive sports. Nevertheless, it might be time to envision an
406
extension of coping frameworks in which coping is operationalized at two levels of analysis;
407
19
namely, individual coping and team coping (see Figure 13.1). Two different approaches could be
408
explored to operationalize coping at the team level: (a) coping in a team to examine how each
409
individual in a team is coping and how it influences other individuals or group-level outcomes
410
such as performance or cohesion, and (b) coping of a team to examine athletes’ perceptions of
411
how we as a team are coping.
412
Team-level
coping Team-level
outcomes
Level 2 effect
Person-level
coping Person-level
outcomes
Level 1 effect
Cross-level effect
Figure 1. Multilevel model of coping. Level 1 effect denotes between-person differences in
coping. Level 2 effect denotes between-team differences in coping. Cross-level effect
denotes the moderating role of team-level coping in the relation between person-level
coping and person-level outcomes.
413
Figure 13.1 Multilevel model of coping. Level 1 effect denotes between-person differences in
414
coping. Level 2 effect denotes between-team differences in coping. Cross-level effect denotes the
415
moderating role of team-level coping in the relation between person-level coping and
416
person-level outcomes.
417
418
On the one hand, coping in a team could be investigated by asking athletes to evaluate
419
their own coping and then aggregating the individual coping efforts of each individual in a team.
420
Imagine a first team in which most of the athletes are using high levels of task-oriented coping.
421
Then, imagine a second team in which most of the athletes are using low levels of task-oriented
422
coping. Once aggregated, the coping scores of team members could perhaps offer a useful
423
account of coping in a team that might be predicted by team-level processes while predicting
424
consequential team-level outcomes. Would the first team be more likely to attain desirable
425
group-level outcomes? What could explain between-team differences in such team-level coping?
426
20
By examining coping in a team, researchers could consider how each individual in a team is
427
coping and how it influences the outcomes of the individuals (e.g., a level 1 effect), and a natural
428
extension of this research would be to consider how aggregates of individual athletes’ coping
429
efforts on a team might predict group-level outcomes such as team performance (i.e., level 2
430
effect). Researchers could also examine weakest links effects to see if the lowest level of
431
coping in a team (i.e. the score of the worst athlete in a team) can bring down an entire teams
432
coping and possibly their performance.
433
On the other hand, communal coping offers a promising perspective to investigate coping
434
of a teamthat is, how the team as a whole copes with the requirements of a collectively shared
435
stressor (e.g., preparing to play a game, managing the injury of the team’s captain). Specific
436
coping behaviors of teams might be quite distinct from the individual coping behaviors generally
437
reported by athletes in qualitative studies and available self-reported questionnaires. Therefore,
438
further research is needed to investigate the many cooperative coping actions through which a
439
team, as a whole, attempts to manage the demands associated with their participation in
440
sport-related activities. Focus groups with entire teams or randomly selected team members
441
would offer a nice methodological platform to explore coping as a team-regulatory process that
442
emerges at the group level, over and above the coping of individuals in a team. A cooperative
443
coping actions questionnaire could then be developed and administered using a referent-shift
444
approach (69) in which each athlete would rate the extent to which the team, as a whole, is
445
coping with the demands of a sport situation.
446
As displayed in Figure 13.1, at least three types of effects could easily be tested in a
447
multilevel coping framework. Consistent with the extant literature, researchers could keep on
448
examining how individual coping influences individual outcomes of athletes. As such, we might
449
21
expect a positive relationship between task-oriented coping of individual athletes and their
450
likelihood of attaining achievement goals and sustaining a high level of sport satisfaction (e.g.,
451
my coping influences my performance). Researchers could also extend both theoretical and
452
empirical knowledge on coping by examining whether teams with higher levels of task-oriented
453
coping are more likely to reach high levels of goal attainment and sport satisfaction at the team
454
level (e.g., our coping influences our performance). Finally, a multilevel extension of the coping
455
framework would enable the examination of complex models in which team-level processes
456
might moderate the relationship between individual-level coping and individual-level outcomes
457
(e.g., our coping influences the relationship between my coping and my performance).
458
Such a multilevel coping framework might be applicable in team sports, dyadic sports,
459
and some individual sports. Individual sport activities can be divided according to the team’s
460
structural interdependence (70) and distinctions can be made depending on whether athletes
461
interact during competitive tasks, or whether athletes’ individual performances contribute to
462
group outcomes (e.g., golfers’ points contributing to a team score). As such, future research is
463
needed to investigate team level coping, not only in the more traditional teams and dyadic sports
464
but also in some individual sports in which athletes frequently train with one another or are under
465
the influence of the same coach or sporting organization.
466
Practical Implications
467
The research and theories reviewed in this chapter provide a starting point for improving
468
coping and emotion regulation within teams of competitive athletes, although the literature in
469
this area is emergent and more studies are required. First and foremost, it is apparent that
470
athletes’ stressor appraisals, coping efforts, and emotion regulation exist within a social context
471
and have social consequences for those around them. Whereas in the past researchers provided
472
22
applied implications in terms of describing strategies athletes can use to cope with stressors or
473
regulate their emotions before or during performance (71,72), it is also important to consider
474
how an individual’s coping or emotion regulation fits within the social context of the team. With
475
these points in mind, we provide some practical suggestions for improving athletes’ social
476
support, coping, and emotion regulation in teams:
477
478
Esteem support: Esteem support is associated with increases in performance and
479
self-confidence. It can be provided by someone who reinforces the positives in a
480
situation, tells you ‘you can do it,’ someone who believes in you, encourages you, and
481
reassures you.
482
Supportive and unsupportive behaviors: Coaches should monitor their behaviors and
483
emphasize positive feedback and encouragement, providing athletes with clear goals and
484
instructions, while minimizing unsupportive behaviors such as yelling, manipulating, and
485
threatening athletes.
486
Positive emotions: Athletes’ and coaches’ emotional displays can positively and
487
negatively influence others around them, and positive emotional expressions (e.g.,
488
cheering, celebrating) have been associated with subsequent team success. Athletes’
489
positive emotions can engender favorable emotions among their teammates, therefore
490
positive and encouraging behaviors should generally be promoted within teams.
491
Negative emotions: Athletes’ negative emotional displays may negatively affect their
492
teammates. Thus, athletes may need to engage in self-regulatory behaviors to diminish
493
the expression of negative emotions. Teammates can also help athletes reduce their
494
negative emotions by using humor, positive feedback, and by adjusting their own actions
495
23
to support others on the team.
496
Communal coping: A communal coping orientation should emphasize the value in
497
working together to deal with ‘our’ problems. To increase communal coping, coaches and
498
athletes should: (a) communicate openly about the problem or stressor, (b) approach
499
problems as ‘ours’ and not ‘yours’ or ‘mine’ to deal with alone, and (c) develop
500
cooperative strategies to reduce the negative impact of the stressor.
501
Summary
502
Athletes do not train or perform in a ‘social vacuum’ and their stressors, emotions, and
503
coping are influenced by (and subsequently influence) others around them, and interpersonal
504
approaches to studying coping, social support, and emotion regulation provide a useful way of
505
understanding the complexity of athletes’ social interactions in sport. Indeed, Vallerand and
506
Blanchard (73) noted that athletes’ emotions have consequences for interpersonal appraisals and
507
behaviors and they called for research examining emotions and interpersonal relations in sport.
508
In this chapter we have reviewed theory and research highlighting the social nature of stressors,
509
coping, and emotion regulation, and we distinguished between research focusing on
510
intrapersonal and interpersonal processes among athletes. As researchers continue to move
511
toward a focus on interpersonal processes related to coping, social support, and emotion
512
regulation, researchers can make use of the theoretical approaches and the novel multilevel
513
models and qualitative approaches reviewed in this chapter to examine the effects of athletes’
514
coping and teammate interactions nested within teams, thereby contributing to a better
515
understanding of the individual and team level effects of social interactions in sport.
516
24
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... In previous research, athletes have identified a 'lack of performance feedback' and 'not knowing what you have done wrong' as sources of conflict between them and coaches (Arnold & Fletcher, 2012) and the behaviour and interactions of coaches is itself a key organisational stressor according to Sarkar and Fletcher (2014). The movement between junior and senior football results in exposure to very different environments and coaching approaches, from the gentle and supportive to the brutal and confrontational (Dowling et al., 2018) but the current study supports calls for coaches to minimise unsupportive behaviours such as yelling, emphasise positive feedback and provide clear instructions, for social support to be perceived as more effective (Tamminen and Gaudreau, 2014). Emotional support represents the ability to turn to others for comfort at times of stress but participants were generally reluctant to talk to anyone at their club about the challenges they faced, nor to express any negative emotion, Kwame instead preferring to write down his thoughts as a coping mechanism. ...
... When psychological support was offered to Francois, it was rejected due to a lack of trust and a sense that to seek help with problems would be considered weakness (Swainston et al., 2020). Esteem support, when provided by those who believe in you and reinforce the positive, has been associated with increased performance and self-confidence (Tamminen & Gaudreau, 2014) and whilst acknowledging the value of an occasional confidence "boost" from coaches, all participants perceived a general lack of social support from staff at the club. Consistent with previous research (Swainston et al., 2020), in the absence of formal support from the club, players relied upon the informal support of peers, particularly team-mates. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
The purpose of this investigation was to use Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis to explore the experiences of young elite footballers during the process of transition from junior-to-senior football. Specifically, the analysis focuses upon (a) the key stressors encountered by participants during this transitionary phase, (b) participants' perceptions of the social support they receive, and uniquely (c) the impact of social identity on players' ability to receive the social support necessary to cope with these stressors. The results indicated that participants felt positively challenged by the demands of adult football, but when opportunities to play were scarce, due to deselection or injury, a perceived lack of social support from the club contributed to reduced confidence and motivation, and a sense of isolation and loss of control. Participants sought different types of social support in different situations and social identity, explored via Social Identity Mapping and qualitative interviews, played a significant role in their perceptions of that social support. Participants did not have a strong social identity with their clubs and were in the process of reconciling the conflict between the values and behaviours promoted as those of a professional footballer with those of other social groups, such as teammates, friends, family, and network organisations, to which they felt a strong connection and relied upon for effective social support.
... Emotions and emotion-related states, in fact, are social phenomena, and have interpersonal consequences. They are experienced, manifested, and managed within social contexts in the interaction with and in search of support from important others, such as coaches and teammates (Tamminen & Gaudreau, 2014;Tamminen & Neely, 2021). ...
... The inclusion of social support as a new modality of psychobiosocial experiences was motivated by the strong evidence that emotions are social phenomena that are experienced, manifested, and regulated in the interaction with important others, such as coaches and teammates (Tamminen & Gaudreau, 2014;Tamminen & Neely, 2021). Social support is an important variable to measure because of its beneficial influence on many areas including self-confidence (Freeman & Rees, 2010), psychological responses to sport injury (Mitchell et al., 2014), coping with competitive and organizational stressors (Arnold et al., 2018;Rees & Hardy, 2004), burnout and self-determined motivation (DeFreese & Smith, 2013), well-being (DeFreese & Smith, 2014), and performance (Freeman & Rees, 2009). ...
Article
Objectives To develop and validate the Psychobiosocial Experience Semantic Differential scale in sport (PESD-Sport), a new measure to assess discrete emotions and performance-related experiences in sport as conceptualized within the individual zones of optimal functioning (IZOF; Hanin, 2000, 2007, 2010) framework. Method In Study 1, we developed a preliminary 53-item version of the scale using a semantic differential format in the construction of the items pertaining to 12 psychobiosocial modalities. We chose this format to attain a clear representation of psychobiosocial states between opposites along perceived performance functionality (i.e., functional, dysfunctional). The preliminary scale was then administered in a sample of 280 athletes. In Study 2, a 30-item scale derived from Study 1 was cross validated in a second independent sample of 302 athletes. Results Findings from Study 1 provided preliminary evidence of factorial and construct validity for a 10-modality, 30-item model (3 items for each modality). Findings from Study 2 supported the factor structure of a model containing 30 items loading into 10 modalities (i.e., unpleasant/pleasant emotions, confidence, anxiety, assertiveness, cognitive, bodily-somatic, motor-behavioral, operational, communicative, and social support). Convergent, discriminant, and nomological validity of the PESD-Sport was also demonstrated. Conclusion Based on a substantive theoretical framework, this new measure of discrete emotions and performance-related experiences can advance the knowledge on the relationship between psychobiosocial states and performance. The scale could also inform applied interventions aimed at improving psychobiosocial experiences for performance enhancement.
... The players from the same sports specialization have one goal, which is to achieve victories and highlight some personal traits such as self-confidence and self-realization (Richardson et al, 2017). In addition, all sports teams belong to the same environment (Walseth, 2008;Tamminen & Gaudreau, 2014). ...
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Purpose: the current study aimed to know the level of life skills of female wheelchair basketball players and statistical differences in the life skills of female wheelchair basketball players according to team affiliation. Material & Methods: the study was conducted on female wheelchair basketball players, where the study sample amounted to 30 players. The life skills scale prepared by Al-Sutri (2007), which contains four dimensions, was adopted; the skill of communication, the skill of teamwork and cooperation, the skill of taking personal responsibility, and the skill of physical and technical. Results: the results showed that the mean values of the life skills dimensions ranged between (3.40 and 4.18), and the mean value of the total score of the scale amounted to (3.80), which indicates there were a high degree of life skills. And there were no significant differences between female wheelchair basketball players according to team affiliation in the life skills. Conclusions: it was found that the level of life skills of female wheelchair basketball players is high. It is very important to develop special sports programs that enhance the life skills of persons (male/female) with disabilities, considering the type and severity of the disability.
... Stress coping also emerges as a combination of individual and group efforts (Tamminen and Gaudreau, 2014). Communal coping is defined as a process when stressors are appraised and acted upon in the context of close relationships, and describes the efforts of individuals in a group as they collectively cope with stressors (Lyons et al, 1998). ...
Article
Engaging in new entrepreneurial efforts sets many demands for individuals involved, and many of those demands impact the well-being of the people in a start-up company. One common issue linked to well-being is stress. Prior research has indicated that a majority of all entrepreneurs experience stress on a regular basis (e.g. Shepherd et al., 2010). Furthermore, a recent study by Wach et al. (2021) identified that entrepreneurial stress differs from the stress that salaried employees with no entrepreneurship responsibility face in their work. The “overall high and persistence level of stress” (Wach et al., 2021) calls for stress research focusing on entrepreneurial setup. Since entrepreneurship is a wide concept and entrepreneurs as a category includes a wide variety of entrepreneurial individuals and teams, an even tighter scoping of stress research is defendable. This study studied a sub-category of entrepreneurial organizations called early-stage start-ups. This cohort of companies faces lots of uncertainties concerning the market, technology, and competition. Thus, it can be logically argued that these companies have stressors that are typical to their stage of development as well as difficult to solve due to the scarce resources that a young start-up possesses. The research design adopted was based on treating entrepreneurial stress as a collective effort as well as putting emphasis on the dynamic and volatile nature of the presence of stress in daily start-up operations. The longitudinal approach (study period of 3 weeks) and team-based fresh (video) entries by the teams (4 start-up teams of 2 to 5 people each) were tackling some of the methodological challenges of prior research. Both the experienced stressors and the coping strategies used got recorded and subjected to thematic content analysis. The findings identified stress-related characteristics typical for team-based operating model and also communal coping strategies including those that are rarely reported in the studies of coping strategies on the individual level. The findings contribute academically to the theory-building on the well-being of entrepreneurs and on a pragmatic level for entrepreneurs acting in their typically stress-laden environment as well as for the support and educational organizations for entrepreneurship.
... Besides, positive religious coping could be one of the processes that can boost athletes' self-regulation and be a key determinant if athletes can effectively meet the challenging demands of sport competitions [17,66,67]. Adopting a framework that recognizes athletes' religious identities could not only be an answer to problems and negative emotions but could also facilitate planning and proactive cognitive-behavioral tendencies that encourage positive psychological and emotional development [68]. ...
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In recent times, religiosity and spirituality have been embraced by most athletes as alternative coping mechanism around the world. Although extensive scholarly works on different dimensions of coping exist in sport, only few studies have explored the use of other coping strategies like religious coping. The current study investigated elite student-athletes' religious coping strategies as a function of gender, age and competitive level in the week leading up to competition. This cross-sectional study conveniently recruited a sample of 300 student-athletes competing at the 2018 West Africa University Games (WAUG) in Nigeria. Sociodemographic data (i.e., gender, age category and competitive level) and religious coping using the Brief RCOPE Scale were assessed. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was used to evaluate the possible effect of gender, age and competitive level on religious coping. Results indicate that no significant interaction effects were realized across all between-subject factors: gender-age-competitive level on religious coping. However, a significant main effect was noted for only participants' competitive level on religious coping, with international students employing more religious coping strategies (both positive and negative) compared to their national and regional counterparts. Sport psychologists, coaches and managers working closely with these athletes could integrate positive religious coping strategies for athletes of different competitive levels as part of an adaptation framework that may independently influence important outcomes such as emotion and cognitive regulation, including their psychological wellbeing.
... The same source of stress can be shared between several individuals of the same group. This so-called common stress [34] can establish collective coping responses [35][36][37][38][39][40], the adoption of which results in the cohesion and commitment of the group in a series of cognitive and behavioral efforts maintaining the social relationships during stressful episodes and events. ...
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The objective of this study was to discover the repertoire of coping strategies used by young Tunisian male and female athletes in individual and team sports when competing in their sport, and to examine the effect of gender and type of sport on these strategies. A total of 917 young Tunisian athletes including 349 female athletes and 568 male athletes, aged 14 to 19, with an average age of 15.63 ± 1.5 years, participated in our study. Participants were invited to respond to the Arabic version of the Competitive Sport Adaptation Strategy Inventory to assess their coping repertoire. The results revealed that factors, such as gender, and type of sport, influenced the coping repertoire among young athletes. In the inter-personal and intra-personal context, young athletes used a wide variety of coping strategies, all of which were task-oriented and disengagement-oriented.
Article
Objectives The purpose of this study was to (a) explore female dancers’ experiences of emotions following deselection and (b) examine the coping mechanisms used by dancers to overcome these emotions. Methods Two one-on-one semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten female dancers (aged 20–26, average career length M = 6 years) from dance forms including ballet, jazz, commercial, and contemporary. Data were collected and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis by Smith (2009). Results Dancers experienced a rollercoaster of emotions including disappointment, confidence impacts, and embarrassment, as well as changes in their feelings towards dance. To deal with these emotions the dancers often avoided their emotions, used dance as therapy, and sought social support as coping mechanisms. Conclusions Dancers’ emotional experiences of deselection seem to negatively influence the social identities of the dancer and the levels of motivation they held towards dance. Findings highlighted the importance of coping with these emotions, and suggested future sport psychologists should apply interventions to assist with this and the regulation of emotions to prevent dancers from dropping out.
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Teams are groups of people who work together to achieve a common goal. Maybe you play on a sports team, perform in school plays, or work on a group project for a class. These are all examples of teams. You may have heard your coach or teacher talk about the importance of teamwork and being a good teammate. Teamwork is what teams do to maximize their chances of achieving their goals, like winning a basketball game, putting on a stellar school play, or obtaining a high mark on a group assignment. Sometimes it can be difficult for people to come together and work effectively as a team. In this article, we talk about what teamwork is and how teams can improve the way they work together before, during, and after games. We also explain how teammates can support one another when faced with obstacles and conflict.
Chapter
The purpose of this chapter is to provide a review of the coping construct and the associated research within sport psychology. Over the past two decades, a burgeoning amount of attention and research has emerged attesting to the recognition of the central importance of coping in the emotion process of sport. Since a comprehensive review of this literature would require a complete volume onto itself, this review includes what we believe to be important issues in the sport coping literature. To this end, we (1) discuss how coping is conceptualized in sport research, (2) highlight key coping measurement issues, (3) identify key antecedents and outcomes of the coping process, (4) discuss implications for professional practice, and (5) address future directions for sport coping research.
Book
Sport Psychology research has developed and expanded considerably over the last decade or two. Its accelerating volume of research output embraces a wide variety of topics having both academic and practical impact, and relating to other areas of Sports Science and also the broader overall discipline of "mainstream" psychology. In this busy and developing arena, the healthy and productive evolution of a research topic requires the periodic summarization, reflection, and feedback that is the domain of the literature review. A review acts as the primary catalyst for a topic's emerging organization, reorganization and structure, and generates perspectives and pointers for further study directions; it establishes reference points and foundations for continued progress. By its very nature it tends to be a larger publication than a typical focused research paper. The pathways to publication of Sport Psychology research are often severely congested. For example, in 2004, four of the main refereed outlets for original research in Sport Psychology: The Sport Psychologist, the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, and the Psychology of Sport and Exercise received over 400 submissions (private communications). Inevitably the space that established journals can afford to grant to review articles is limited, both in terms of the article size and the frequency with which topics can be visited. Although reviews that appear in books usually enjoy a larger and more appropriate space allocation, they typically have not carried the hallmark of external independent peer review that journal publication provides. Our ambitious intention is that Literature Reviews in Sport Psychology addresses these issues by providing an 'essential library' for sport psychologists who embrace the theory-to-practice philosophy. This collection presents a number of contemporary reviews of significant and popular topics from some prominent researchers within each area. An important and distinctive feature of this volume is that all the chapters have been subjected to peer-review by expert referees, a process usually reserved solely for journal publications. This book offers up-to-date literature reviews with a distinctive conceptual, theoretical, and practical focus.
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Psychology has increasingly turned to the study of psychosocial resources in the examination of well-being. How resources are being studied and resource models that have been proffered are considered, and an attempt is made to examine elements that bridge across models. As resource models span health, community, cognitive, and clinical psychology, the question is raised of whether there is overuse of the resource metaphor or whether there exists some underlying principles that can be gleaned and incorporated to advance research. The contribution of resources for understanding multicultural and pan-historical adaptation in the face of challenge is considered.
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There is an extensive body of research indicating that social support can contribute to health and well-being by reducing exposure to stress and enhancing coping efforts. The mechanisms underlying this relationship remain poorly understood, however, and confusion abounds as to the nature of social support. This paper examines some of the major conceptual issues relevant to the study of social support in the context of sport injury. Specific issues addressed include differences between (a) support activities and support messages, (b) perceived support and received support, and (c) support networks, support behaviors, and appraisals of support. The discussion includes an examination of the general and sport-specific social support research. Gaps in the research are identified and suggestions are made throughout the paper for investigating social support issues in sport.