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Perceptions of Stress and Coping During Preparation for the 1999 Womens Soccer World Cup Nicholas L. Holt Leeds Metropolitan University John M. Hogg University.

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Presentation on theme: "Perceptions of Stress and Coping During Preparation for the 1999 Womens Soccer World Cup Nicholas L. Holt Leeds Metropolitan University John M. Hogg University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Perceptions of Stress and Coping During Preparation for the 1999 Womens Soccer World Cup Nicholas L. Holt Leeds Metropolitan University John M. Hogg University of Alberta Gary Craig Frazer Paterson Mark McCulloch

2 Scotland Women's International Team

3 Introduction The purposes of this investigation were to identify and examine players perceptions of stress and coping strategies prior to the 1999 soccer world cup finals. Using a case study approach (Stake, 2000) members of a womens national soccer team participated in this investigation. The main sources of stress were identified and categorized into four major themes…

4 Introduction cont… Importance of coping within competition is vital!!! But also understanding the stress faced by athletes and then identifying the relevant coping responses is very important for sport psychologists. Sport psychologists are required to help athletes find ways to cope with the demands of competitions. (Gould, Finch & Jackson)

5 Previous Research Within this aspect of stress and coping in sport, the focus has primarily been on athletes involved in individual sports. However in a closely related study, Gould, Finch & Jackson (1993) attempted to link sources of stress and coping strategies used by figure skaters in training and competition.

6 Previous Research cont… Their findings showed that coping is a complex process for elite athletes that does not simply involve one coping style automatically employed for all stressful situations. Researchers from different theoretical perspectives agree that coping can be described as cognitive, affective and behavioural efforts to manage specific internal and external demands. (Crocker, Kowalski & Graham, 1998) These coping researchers have also made important distinctions between problem-focused, emotion-focused, avoidance and appraisal-reappraisal coping styles. (Cox, Ferguson, 1991)

7 Team vs. Individual Referring to previous findings, this journal aims to look at the plausible idea that athletes in team sports face some different stressors to those involved in individual sports There are major key differences that may affect change in coping styles between team sports and individual sports. However it has been concluded previously that athletes who participated in team sports, require more coping strategies. (Park 2000)

8 Linking to our previous research! Coping in sport Failure to cope can lead to… Approaches to understand coping What is the coping process? The Stress Process

9 Method Fieldwork conducted was organised around a case study methodology A naturalistic approach was used (Lincoln and Guba, 1985) to provide an insight into perceptions of stress and coping. Study presents a team described through individuals perceptions. Specifically they adopted what Stake (2000) calls an intrinsic case study.

10 Participants Members of an international female soccer team taking part in a 6 week preparation camp for the world cup in 1999. Team was from a developed western country Time of interview:- 7 players initially solicited for participation age range between 19 & 30 (m = 23.7) 3 defenders, 2 midfielders, 1 striker and 1 keeper Post world cup 3 members of the squad selected for member checking procedures

11 The Context Women's world cup finals is the largest female sporting event in the world. Such important life events provide unique opportunities to investigate the coping process players adopt (Aldwin,1994) 3 of the players interviewed performed in the previous world cup were the team didnt register a win. They recalled:- Poor organisation Fragmentation as a group Negative team interactions

12 1999 qualifying: Appointment of a new head coach Team qualified top of their group establishing several scoring records along the way. Resulted in Higher expectations. Lead to: Higher media interest in the team Individual and team sponsorships had to be arranged

13 Preparation Camp Lasted from May 2 nd to June 13 th. Involved: 2 hour physical/technical practice sessions twice per day Daily 30 minute talks/activity sessions on mental preparation 6 exhibition games against international opposition 4 other games against other opposition. Team objective In the finals was to qualify for the Olympic games in Sydney Ultimately they failed losing twice and drawing once.

14 Data Collection Sports psychology consultant (SPC) was invited by the head coach to join team staff during the training camp. First 2 weeks the SPC established rapport with players and other staff. Arranged for the interviewer to join the team for three days at the mid point. Mutual benefits to the study.

15 7 players agreed to be interviewed under certain conditions. Interviews were semi-structured and conducted over three days at the mid point lasting 45 minutes. Interview:- Firstly asked background questions regarding their international soccer career and the camp Main questions were then posed on the four main psychological constructs thought to influence performance (Mahoney, Gabriel and Perkins, 1987) They are concentration, self confidence, motivation and anxiety management strategies

16 Example; participants were asked. What factors are influencing your confidence during training camp? Responses were probed to illicit participants perceptions of stressors they faced. Then they were asked, How are you dealing with that? 2 pilot interviews conducted with female collegiate soccer players. After analysis a final two part question was included in the interview guide. Is there anything else that is concerning you during this camp? How are you dealing with it?

17 Interview guide consisted of five broad questions to guide the conversation. In addition the interviewer chatted with other members of the team informally and attended a training session. The team SPC attended all training sessions keeping detailed notes on his observations of players psychological readiness and the content & effectiveness of the sessions he conducted.

18 Data Analysis Based on framework set out by Maykut and Morehouse (1994) Following verbatim transcription of the audio tapes, data was encoded ensuring confidentiality & read several times. Individual meaning units were identified Similar meaning units were then grouped together an assigned an essence phrase that conveyed the meaning contained in the category. Each grouping analysed using constant comparative method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) The essence phrases became the central themes of the study.

19 The team SPC and interviewer discussed the themes created through the analytic process in light of the observations and other data noted by the SPC during the training camp. Finally an external auditor examined the data analysis procedures and edited early drafts of the manuscript.

20 How the Study might be judged. Adopted a process of technique triangulation (Patton, 1990) using multiple perceptions to clarify meaning (Stake, 2000). Member checks (Lincoln & Gubba, 1985) were important. Post world cup original participants were sent a copy of the data presentation and asked to comment. Next interviewer contacted 3 players who did not participate and asked them to check the next draft of data presentation.


22 SOURCES OF STRESS Four main categories of stressors were perceived: Coaches communication Demands of international soccer Competitive stressors Distractions

23 Situation World Cup Finals Demands Cognitive Appraisal Primary Appraisal: Is this important YES, very important – High Athletic Identity Secondary appraisal: Can I cope? Response Arousal ? Behaviour Emotions (incl Anxiety) Individual differences e.g., Trait anxiety e.g., coping style The Stress Process (from Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) Coping

24 Coaches communication Divided into coach-player interactions in games and coach-player interactions in training Games Wide players dreaded being down side close to coach Negative comments very unhelpful Lose concentration as a result of coaches input Training Coaches were negative and punitive during practice sessions – players reacted negatively to these comments *1 The manner in which coaches delivered feedback in training was a crucial source of stress during the preparation camp

25 Demands of international soccer Pace of the game The demand to anticipate play in order to be able to compete, given the pace of international soccer, was stressful because sometimes players doubted if they had the ability to cope Cannot cut out from around to focus on skills Kate said, You are constantly having to focus on your man and where the ball is.

26 Competitive Stressors 6 Different categories of competitive stressors 1) Pre-game anxiety Thoughts about the demands they faced Brought on when coaches start to discuss the game 2) Games anxiety Players had high expectations of there own personal performance in response to the team goal of Olympic qualification *2 3) Making mistakes Players felt they became distracted, and lose focus on the game by thinking irrelevant thoughts, like what if I mess up? *3

27 4) Coming off the bench Coach emphasised to all the players that they needed to make an impact Do not feel like they have the confidence of the coach like starters do Coach said that when he looked down the bench, they turn away as if they do not want to go on *4 5) Fear of being dropped During the training camp the roster was reduced from 30 to 22 players. There was a tense atmosphere among the team as players worried about their status as a squad player 6)Performance evaluation After each game the coaching staff posted ratings of each players individual performance on the locker room wall, ranging from 1(poor) to 10(excellent) This was poor for confidence – should have been self-referencing

28 Distractions Fatigue Many players complained of fatigue in informal conversations with the SPC and looked forward to weekends off Jen expressed how the level of fatigue was distracting her focus, If you are mentally or physically fatigued, that can affect your motivation to train. Opponent Difficult to keep concentrated and disciplined when playing against dirty players that would kick and elbow opponents

29 COPING STRATEGIES Four classes of coping strategies were highlighted: Reappraising Use of social resources Performance behaviours Blocking

30 Reappraising (cognitive efforts) Positive self-talk Players used positive phrases to handle stressful situations, e.g. Megan reminded herself, lets go, you can do this Sue, when worried about her ability to meet the standard of play thought, You are stronger than her, just relax, youre fine, when faced with a big name opponent Problem solving Problem-solving after a mistake to try and avoid it happening again Focus on process rather than outcome Remembering past successes To increase the belief that they could handle the stressor they faced, players looked back on what they had achieved Remembering good performances at a lower level despite their inexperience at national level

31 Use of social resources social support to help manage emotions Encouragement from team-mates Players relied on each other for encouragement during training and games Following a mistake Sue pointed out that coaches would yell at her. She said If another player says to me, Dont worry about it, youll get the next one, this helps me to forget it and move on. Family support Unconditional love and support from family members often helped the players to cope with the demands the faced Support from significant others Positive comments from track coaches from high school helped boost confidence *5

32 Performance behaviours One the field task communication Communication helped maintain task focus The sweeper would be the most vocal as they can see most of the pitch. Megan said the sweeper reinforces the things I am thinking so I dont have to think twice about doing it. It helps me stay in the right position mentally. Communication helps verbal deliverer also Good warm-up/start A good start helped to cope with anxiety If my touch is good in the warm-up, Im going to feel confident about myself

33 Blocking Blocking out irrelevant stimuli All players interviewed discussed how they played their best when they could focus on the game, eliminating peripheral distractions Some peoples cues were to focus on the player and the ball – nothing else Blocking out coaches Although the coaches may have been providing relevant information, often players had to block them out during games because of their negative communication styles. Jen said, usually I tune coaches out during the games.

34 To perform at the most elite competitive level, such as the soccer world cup finals, athletes must be able to deal effectively with the stressors they face to actively change or manage and environment in order to achieve success (Crocker & Graham, 1995). Team fell short of meeting the outcome goal of Olympic Qualification Whether or not the performance of the team was based on the athletes inability to cope is a matter of speculation

35 Discussion Many stressors identified here are congruent with previous findings of elite athletes from individual sports ( Dale, 2000; Gould, Eklund and Jackson, 1993; Scanlan et al, 1989,1991) E.g. Blocking distractions used here and in Gould, Eklund and Jackson, 1993 who reported this theme with wrestlers. Two main differences with previous research. Players used on field communication to help maintain focus Participants negative perceptions of their coaches communication styles

36 Players used a range of coping responses to deal with their coaches negative comments this differed from previous studies were coaches were seen as a source of social support. Social support identified as a key coping response when dealing with coaches. In line with Crocker and Graham (1995) Avoiding confrontation with coaches & talking with team mates about coaches negative feedback can create resentment. On the other hand blocking may be appropriate as confrontation risks a negative influence on playing status.

37 Players in this study demonstrated a range of coping responses to stressors that have previously been identified as important for performance. Majority of responses used to manage participants perceptions of coaches. Showed that team sports used a range of strategies as Park (2000) had previously suggested – perhaps related to having to cope with additional stressors perceived from team environment.

38 Other research implications Previous coping strategies were measured by relevant coping instruments This study coping strategies used may be specific to the demands of the sport in question. E.g. On field communication & a good warm up or start to the game are not specifically measured. Crocker et al (1998) main instruments to measure coping in sport were not originally developed with sporting populations.

39 Practical applications in the preparation of athletes in teams for major competitions. Many stressors were related to social interactions of the team environment. Important to: Educate elite team sports athletes in ways to cope with social stressors associated with their particular team subculture. Stressors may vary between teams but cognitive, behavioural and social resources were used as coping strategies.

40 E.g. on field communication helped athletes cope with several types of stressors Practical strategy: SPCs and coaches working together on communication patterns during training to develop inter player communication skills. Reassures players and builds confidence in demands they face. Supportive behaviour can be a resource for coping. E.g. supportive behaviour from team mates, family etc Individual cognitive strategies such as blocking may be appropriate for uncontrollable situations.

41 Strengths / Weaknesses Observes athletes in the build up to a world cup which is a huge sporting event that doesn't come round that often. Mutually beneficial study Thorough data analysis Only females involved

42 Future Research Men's team to be researched pre major tournament. As the coach was responsible for the majority of the stressors a study could be organised to look more specifically at the coaches role within the squad.

43 Linking stressors with coping strategies In this study there were certain plausible linkages apparent between specific sources of stress and coping responses which were used by the members of the Football team. Can you remember what they were???? Sources of Stress 1) Coaches - 2) International Competition - 3) Competitive stressors - 4) Distractions (fatigue and actions of opponents) -

44 Sources of Stress 1) Coaches - Social resources (emotional reassurance) - Reappraising – positive self-talk - Blocking/avoidance coping 2) International Competition – performance behaviours (communication between players) 3) Competitive stressors – Good warm-up/start game well - reappraising – problem solving self-talk 4) Distractions (fatigue and actions of opponents) – blocking/avoidance coping

45 Any Questions?

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