Skip Navigation LinksHome > July 2012 - Volume 25 - Issue 4 > Adolescent athletes: psychosocial challenges and clinical c...
Current Opinion in Psychiatry:
doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e3283541248
CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHIATRY: Edited by Richard Williams and Philip Hazell

Adolescent athletes: psychosocial challenges and clinical concerns

Tamminen, Katherine A.a; Holt, Nicholas L.b; Crocker, Peter R.E.a

Free Access
Article Outline
Collapse Box

Author Information

aSchool of Kinesiology, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia

bFaculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Correspondence to Katherine A. Tamminen, PhD, Exercise and Sport Psychology Lab, School of Kinesiology, The University of British Columbia, 210 - 6081 University Boulevard, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z1, Canada. Tel: +1 604 822 9192; e-mail:

Collapse Box


Purpose of review: To review the recent literature (over the past 18 months) regarding psychosocial challenges and clinical concerns among adolescent athletes, and to address the advances made in understanding adolescent athletes’ coping processes.

Recent findings: Coping research has moved from identifying discrete stressors and coping strategies to examining the processes of coping over time. Parents and coaches play an important role in young athletes’ sport experiences and athletes’ use and development of coping strategies. In terms of clinical concerns, findings regarding the prevalence of disordered eating have been equivocal. However, disordered eating may be of greater concern among athletes participating in ‘leanness’ sports. Sport participation may contribute to increased alcohol consumption among adolescent athletes but decreased use of drugs and smoking cigarettes, while steroid use appears to be relatively rare compared with athletes’ use of alcohol and cigarettes.

Summary: The reviewed studies have implications for future research by identifying opportunities for intervention and education regarding clinical and nonclinical psychosocial challenges. Researchers have emphasized the importance of athletes’ social context and relationships in coping with psychosocial challenges in sport. One concern is that adolescent athletes’ disordered eating and substance use may reflect maladaptive coping. Experimental and intervention research is limited; however, incorporating members of athletes’ social network into future research and interventions may be a practical avenue to achieving positive outcomes among adolescent athletes.

Back to Top | Article Outline


Sport participation can improve motor skills, physical and mental health, and psychosocial development [1–3,4▪]. However, youth report both positive and negative experiences associated with competitive sport participation [5]. In this review, we examine psychosocial challenges and coping in sport, with particular attention paid to the role of parents and coaches, followed by a review of clinical concerns among adolescent athletes (disordered eating and substance abuse).

Back to Top | Article Outline


Early research in this area focussed on the identification of psychosocial challenges or stressors associated with sport participation and the ways in which athletes attempt to cope with these demands [6,7]. Lazarus's [8] transactional approach has been most widely used to study stressors and coping among adolescent athletes [9,10]. From this perspective, stressors are subjective appraisals influenced by the strength of an individual's goal commitment and values concerning his or her sport participation and competition. Adolescent athletes report a number of stressors, including making physical or mental errors, parent, teammate, and coach criticism, pressure to perform, fear of injury, viewing opponents cheating or performing well, official and referee decisions, and organizational stressors, including time management, travel, and balancing sport with school demands [11–14]. Coping is defined as on-going conscious and deliberate attempts to manage specific external and internal demands that are appraised as taxing or exceeding the resources of the person [8,15]. Coping is important for achieving subjectively and objectively successful sport performances [16], and in preventing sport withdrawal or dropout [17,18].

Some studies have examined variability in stressors and coping over short periods of time (e.g., over the course of one competition) [19,20], whereas others have examined coping over longer periods, such as an entire season [14]. These studies showed that stressors fluctuate over time and stressor appraisals also appear to change with development. In a longitudinal study among early and middle adolescent competitive soccer players [13], athletes (mean age = 14.48 years) reported differences in both the nature and frequency of stressor appraisals depending on age; early adolescents reported a higher mean stressor frequency than middle adolescents over the entire season. Furthermore, early adolescents reported more stressors in the early part of the season, whereas middle adolescents reported more stressors in the mid-season to late season. Both early and middle adolescents frequently reported stressors which included making a physical or mental error and receiving a wrong decision from an official. However, some stressors early adolescents reported more frequently than middle adolescents included observing an opponent cheat and observing another player perform well, whereas the types of stressors middle adolescents reported more frequently included injury and criticism from coaches, parents, and other players. The differences in early and middle adolescent athletes’ stressor appraisals may reflect different developmental stages as well as contextual changes associated with middle adolescents playing at higher competitive levels. Thus, the use of longitudinal designs in sport coping research has drawn attention to the fluctuating nature and frequency of stressor appraisals within athletes’ social environment, as well as the changing demands athletes face over the course of a season.

Box 1
Box 1
Image Tools

Studies examining the effect of gender on coping have produced equivocal results [6,21,22]. However, a limitation of these studies is that they have generally examined stressors as generic events at a ‘macro level’, without fully examining the subjective appraisal processes associated with specific stressors. An examination of stressors and coping which takes into account stressors appraisals and stressor sources may explain some differences in male and female athletes’ coping [23]. One recent study helped produce a more refined understanding of gender differences in stressors and coping. Hoar et al.[24] had 524 male and female adolescent team sport athletes (n= 274 male, n = 250 female, mean age = 13.1 years) complete measures of coping with interpersonal stressors in sport. There were no significant differences in the amount of coping strategies male and female athletes used overall. However, there were gender differences across different sources of interpersonal stress. Female athletes used more instances of seeking social support in the context of stressors related to coach and personal social behaviour than male athletes. Female athletes also reported using more cognitive reappraisal than male athletes, but only in the context of referee stressors. These findings draw attention to the differences between male and female athletes’ relationships and social connectedness goals; however, this study only focussed on gender differences in coping with interpersonal stressors. It remains unclear how gender differences would emerge in relation to other competitive stressors in sport.

Few experimental or intervention studies have examined ways to improve coping among adolescent athletes. One exception was a theoretically driven small-scale intervention among five male soccer players (mean age = 13.6 years) [25▪]. Using a coping effectiveness training program, the authors found that athletes’ coping self-efficacy improved, whereas coping effectiveness and performance showed some improvements in effect sizes compared with baseline, but not all athletes reported improvements. Interestingly, athletes’ perceptions of coping effectiveness peaked following the intervention session on problem-focussed coping, which has been reported as most effective in dealing with stressors in sport contexts [26]. This intervention was conducted among a small sample, and researchers have called for more studies which evaluate the effectiveness of interventions to improve athletes’ coping, achievement, and well being in a sport context [27▪].

Back to Top | Article Outline
Role of parents and coaches

Parents help their children understand and interpret their experiences in sport by acting as role models of behaviours, beliefs, and attitudes [28]. However, some young athletes report parental pressure as a stressor associated with sport participation [29]. Recent research has focussed on identifying those parental behaviours which affect young athletes’ experiences in sport and athletes’ perceptions about parental behaviours. Interviews with elite tennis players and their coaches and parents revealed positive parental behaviours included providing social support, positive communication, providing motivation, developing psychological and social skills, and keeping sport in perspective [30]. Negative parental behaviours included being pushy or placing too much pressure on the athlete, yelling or criticizing the athlete, over-involvement and controlling behaviours, ineffective or negative communication, and an overemphasis on winning. Mindful of the potential negative effects parents may have on adolescent athletes, researchers continue to focus on understanding the athlete–parent relationships to optimize parental involvement in sport.

Researchers have sought adolescent athletes’ perspectives to determine their preferences for parental behaviours. Athletes’ specific preferences for parental involvement in sport include making comments on effort and attitude (not performance), providing practical advice, and wanting parents to match supportive comments with nonverbal behaviours [31]. Athletes also preferred specific behaviours before, during, and after competition [32]. Prior to competitions, athletes wanted parents to help them prepare physically and mentally (e.g., ensuring proper hydration and helping the athlete to relax). During competitions, athletes wanted parents to encourage the entire team, focus on athletes’ effort rather than on the outcome of the competition, interact positively with athletes, and athletes wanted parents to maintain control of their emotions. Athletes did not want parents to coach from the sidelines, argue with officials, or engage in behaviours which might draw attention to themselves or the athlete. After competitions, athletes wanted parents to provide positive and realistic postgame feedback. These findings offer some promising guidelines for parental behaviour, but to our knowledge there is no recent research which has adopted an intervention approach to target parental behaviour and to examine whether optimizing parental behaviours results in more positive sport experiences or performance outcomes among athletes.

Nicolas et al.[27▪] examined the perceptions of supportive coaching behaviours, coping, and sport achievement among 80 individual sport athletes (mean age = 18.46 years) to investigate the influence of coaches on athletes’ coping. Task-oriented coping (i.e., thought control, mental imagery, relaxation, logical analysis, seeking social support, and effort expenditure) was associated with improved sport achievement, whereas distraction-oriented coping (e.g., disengagement and resignation, venting of unpleasant emotions) was associated with decreased sport achievement. Perceptions of unsupportive coach behaviours prior to competition were associated with disengagement-oriented coping during competition, whereas supportive coach behaviours were significantly associated with task-oriented coping during competition and sport achievement. Further analyses indicated perceptions of supportive coaching had a prospective influence on athletes’ sport achievement during competition via the initiation of task-oriented coping strategies. These findings suggest that perceptions of coaches as either supportive or unsupportive may represent a factor in the use of adaptive or maladaptive coping strategies among adolescent athletes.

Researchers have recently begun to examine the ways in which parents and coaches influence adolescent athletes’ development of coping strategies. Extending this line of research, Tamminen and Holt [33▪] developed a grounded theory of the ways in which young athletes learn to cope with stressors in sport and the role of parents and coaches in this process. This study sampled 17 athletes (mean age = 15.6 years), 10 parents (six mothers and four fathers), and seven male coaches to qualitatively investigate the development of adolescent athletes’ coping. Findings suggested that athletes’ learning about coping was an experiential process facilitated by exposure to multiple sport experiences and by reflecting on one's coping. Parents and coaches played an important role in helping athletes to learn about coping by creating a supportive context for learning and by using a number of specific strategies to help athletes learn about coping, including questioning and reminding athletes about effective coping strategies, providing perspective, sharing their own experiences, dosing or structuring potentially stressful experiences for athletes, initiating informal conversations about coping, creating learning opportunities, and direct instruction about coping. This study suggested ways in which adolescent athletes’ coping may be supported and guided by members of their social networks, providing targets for intervention. However, this qualitative study was limited to team sport athletes, and the interviews were retrospective in nature. Future longitudinal research could examine the correspondence between athletes’ day-to-day (short-term) coping and its influence on long-term psychosocial outcomes.

Back to Top | Article Outline


Clinical sport psychology has recently emerged as a distinct discipline separate from applied sport psychology or performance enhancement. As such, little research to date has specifically investigated clinical issues among adolescent athletes, particularly within the past 18 months. More broadly, researchers have found that the prevalence of psychological problems among high-performance athletes (e.g., generalized anxiety disorder, depression, panic disorders) is not higher than in the general population, although specific social or environmental stressors associated with competitive contexts may contribute to the development of certain disorders [34]. Consequently, two clinical issues have emerged as significant areas of interest in the past 18 months among researchers and practitioners: disordered eating and alcohol and drug abuse.

Back to Top | Article Outline
Disordered eating

Researchers’ use of varying definitions and measures of disordered eating has created some conceptual confusion in the literature. Some researchers have made distinctions between anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS, e.g., when some but not all criteria are met for diagnosis of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa), and subclinical conditions such as problematic eating behaviours and attitudes which do not meet the diagnostic criteria for disordered eating but are still associated with severe physical, psychological, and behavioural disturbances [35]. Other researchers have made distinctions between diagnoses of ‘eating disordered’ (including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, EDNOS, and binge eating disorder), ‘symptomatic’ (individuals report disordered eating but not at a threshold for diagnosis), or ‘nonsymptomatic’ (individuals do not report any criteria for diagnosis) [36]. Additional diagnoses pertinent to athletic populations include anorexia athletica (characterized by reduced body mass or weight cycling for performance, dieting and excessive exercise), exercise dependence, body dysmorphic disorder (a preoccupation with perceived defects in appearance) [35], and the female athlete triad (the co-occurrence of disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis) [37]. The age of onset for athletes’ disordered eating has been suggested to occur during adolescence; however, the prevalence of adolescent athletes’ disordered eating is not well established [38,39].

To date, most research examining disordered eating in sport has focussed on elite adult athletes; however, there is cause for concern regarding young athletes’ disordered eating. Adolescent athletes experience physical changes associated with maturation, including gains in height, weight, and body fat; these changes may affect athletes’ perceptions of their physical appearance and physical ability, potentially contributing to restrictive eating practices [38,40,41]. Disordered eating is more prevalent among adolescent athletes participating in ‘leanness’ sports (e.g., dance, gymnastics, swimming, etc.) versus ‘non-leanness’ sports (e.g., alpine skiing, soccer, basketball, etc.) [42]. Krentz and Warschburger [43▪] conducted a prospective study among 65 male and female adolescent athletes (mean age = 14.0 years) participating in aesthetic or ‘leanness’ sports. Boys reported significantly lower levels of disordered eating at 1-year follow-up, whereas girls’ disordered eating remained stable. Overall, athletes’ desire to be leaner in order to improve sport performance was predictive of disordered eating, and not vice versa, which supports the notion that athletes’ beliefs about leanness as being important for sport performance contribute to a higher prevalence of eating disorders [44]. However, this study did not describe specific diagnoses of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, etc., but rather it examined athletes’ levels of disordered eating which included subclinical conditions. In another recent study of adolescent aesthetic athletes (52 female and 16 male athletes aged 11–21), Van Durme et al.[45] used three separate measures to assess disordered eating pathologies and psychological characteristics related to eating disorders (drive for thinness, bulimia, body dissatisfaction, perfectionism, and interpersonal distrust). Female aesthetic sport athletes reported significantly higher drives for thinness and more features of bulimia, engaged in more dieting behaviours, and had greater concerns about their weight and body shape compared with a female adolescent control group. Competitive state anxiety (e.g., feelings of nervousness or worry prior to competition) [46], age, and eating concerns accounted for a significant amount of variance in dieting behaviour among aesthetic sport athletes. Thus, cognitive concerns regarding one's body and competition are important as core features of adolescent athletes’ disordered eating.

There are some contradictory findings despite the studies reported above. Martinsen et al.[47▪] examined dieting and disordered eating among 15–16-year-old elite athletes (n = 606) and nonathlete controls (n = 355). Disordered eating was examined through the assessment of athletes’ drive for thinness and body dissatisfaction, attempts to lose weight, pathogenic weight control, or self-reported menstrual dysfunction. Martinsen et al.[47▪] classified athletes on the basis of having one or more symptoms of disordered eating, under the assumption that it is important to measure subclinical eating disorders in addition to clinical eating disorders. The non-athlete controls reported a higher incidence of dieting and disordered eating than elite athletes. Furthermore, there was no difference in the prevalence of self-reported dieting or disordered eating between athletes participating in leanness and non-leanness sports. One possible explanation for this finding is that young athletes under-report disordered eating symptoms, and disordered eating may appear and be diagnosed more frequently among older athletes in leanness sports because of a longer period of involvement in sport and extended exposure to leanness requirements.

Generally, disordered eating has been investigated to a greater extent among older adolescents and adult athletes [48–50]. Clinical and subclinical disordered eating is more prevalent among elite athletes compared with the general population, is higher among female athletes compared with male athletes, and is higher among athletes participating in leanness sports than those participating in nonleanness sports [51]. On the balance of evidence, young athletes participating in ‘leanness’ sport may be at risk for developing disordered eating. But, given that some findings have been contradictory, further research is required to understand the development and trajectory of disordered eating among athletes throughout adolescence and into adulthood.

Back to Top | Article Outline
Alcohol and drug abuse

Another clinical issue of concern is adolescent athletes’ alcohol and drug abuse. A recent review reported that sport participation was related to higher alcohol use among athletes but lower levels of cigarette smoking and use of illicit drugs [52]. In a longitudinal survey using data from a national cohort of 11 741 American adolescents, Terry-McElrath and O’Malley [53▪] examined graduating high school students’ sport and exercise participation and its relationship to substance use, conducting four follow-up measurements at 1-year intervals. Findings indicated that adolescents who initially (at age 18) participated in team sports reported higher alcohol use, and higher initial frequency of alcohol use was related to significantly higher frequency of use throughout young adulthood. However, initial sport participation was also associated with decreased cigarette and drug use, and decreased drug use at age 18 was associated with decreased drug use through adulthood. Terry-McElrath and O’Malley's longitudinal study corroborates findings which suggest that sport participation may contribute to alcohol consumption; however, participation in sport may also protect against smoking and drug use [52].

Current research is focussed on identifying the factors which contribute to alcohol and drug use among athletes. Male and female adolescent athletes may have different intentions to consume alcohol. Davies and Foxall [54] found that young men involved in sport were more likely to consume alcohol to the extent of getting drunk compared with their nonathletic male peers; however, findings were not significant for women. Parental and peer subjective norms regarding drinking were also significant predictors of male and female athletes’ intentions to consume alcohol. Although peer and parental norms have been found to predict athletes’ intention to consume alcohol [54], greater drives for muscularity and thinness have been found to predict stronger intentions to use doping substances, regardless of level of sport involvement [55]. Understanding the psychological and social contributors to alcohol and drug use as well as disordered eating continues to be an important area of research.

Researchers have raised concerns about young athletes’ use of performance-enhancing substances and anabolic–androgenic steroids [56▪]. A number of studies have examined the prevalence [57▪,58▪,59] and predictors [55,56▪] of adolescents’ use of performance-enhancing substances. Findings from studies within the past 18 months suggest that the prevalence of high school students’ steroid use is low, ranging from 0.9 [58▪] to 4% [57▪] of surveyed adolescents, and the relationship between adolescent athletes’ sport participation and steroid use is not clear. In one study, sport participation was not significantly related to Icelandic high school students’ steroid use (n = 10 918, 48.2% men, mean age = 17.7 years), although steroid use was associated with participation in informal physical fitness activities (e.g., exercise outside formally organized sports; weightlifting, etc.). Conversely, according to analysis of national data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, participation in multiple sports was associated with a higher probability of male athletes’ steroid use [57▪]. Generally speaking, it appears the prevalence of steroid use ‘is not rampant among high school students’ and ‘compared to smoking and drinking, steroid use is relatively rare’ ([57▪], p. 211). Adolescent athletes’ steroid use may be relatively low compared with alcohol and cigarette use [57▪]; however, steroid use could be part of a broader experimentation with substances [58▪,59] or part of adolescents’ motivation to secure a position on an elite team or to gain athletic scholarships [56▪,57▪]. More research is needed to investigate young athletes’ motivation and perceived incentives for steroid use, although adolescent athletes’ alcohol use appears to be a more pressing issue.

Researchers have focussed on establishing the prevalence of disordered eating and alcohol and drug use, as well as psychological and social factors which contribute to these issues. However, to date there is little published research adopting intervention approaches which target adolescents’ disordered eating or alcohol and drug use in sport contexts, which would be a valuable addition to the current research addressing clinical concerns among adolescent athletes.

Back to Top | Article Outline


Sport is viewed as a context for adolescents’ positive development; however, there is a large body of literature revealing psychosocial challenges and clinical concerns associated with youth sport participation. Recent research has examined how young athletes cope with challenges in sport contexts and the process by which athletes learn to cope, with parents and coaches being implicated as important social agents in athletes’ coping. This line of research may provide valuable information about adolescents’ coping in other contexts, particularly in achievement contexts such as school and academic settings. For example, task-oriented coping (e.g., logical analysis, seeking social support, effort expenditure) is associated with improvements in sport achievement [27▪], and athletes’ perceptions of coping effectiveness increased following educational sessions dealing with problem-focussed coping [25▪]. Educating athletes about task-oriented and problem-focussed coping may be useful in helping athletes to deal with competitive demands, as well as demands in other achievement contexts (i.e., school). There is abundant research in recent years examining the development of life skills and the potential for the transfer of life skills learned in sport to other contexts [60,61]. Despite these advances, there is little research examining the transfer of the coping skills athletes gain in sport contexts to other areas of their lives.

Why do some adolescent athletes develop eating disorders? Researchers have identified the importance of cognitive concerns as core features of adolescent aesthetic sport athletes’ disordered eating. It would appear that cognitive concerns regarding body weight and competitive anxiety about performance contribute to the development of disordered eating [45]. Thus, perceptions that striving for a thin body ideal will be beneficial for performance may put athletes at risk for developing disordered eating [45,47▪]. Although disordered eating is suggested to develop as a result of young athletes’ desire to be leaner to improve performance [43▪,47▪], research among adolescent athletes is limited in scope and has provided equivocal results. It may be the case that disordered eating is diagnosed more often in contexts which emphasize aesthetics and weight management. It should also be noted that most research examining athletes’ disordered eating has been conducted with older, elite populations. Nonetheless, eating disorders diagnosed among adult elite athletes may begin during adolescence, particularly if pressures to perform contribute to young athletes’ cognitive concerns regarding their body shape and weight. Further longitudinal research which examines the trajectory of development of disordered eating is warranted.

The definitions and diagnoses of clinical versus subclinical eating disorders is an important issue to be addressed. Subclinical eating disorders are those which are not considered diagnosable as a clinical eating disorder; yet, the athlete still presents symptoms of disordered eating and may experience severe physical, psychological, and behavioural disturbances as a result [35]. It is not entirely clear how subclinical eating disorders are different from ‘eating disorders not otherwise specified’ (e.g. when some but not all criteria are met for diagnosis of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa), and it is also not clear how practitioners and researchers understand and apply these different definitions and diagnoses. Petrie and Greenleaf [35] have previously drawn attention to this issue, and we agree that greater clarity and consistency surrounding these definitions and diagnoses are needed.

Why do young athletes drink alcohol? Several reasons have been offered to account for adolescent athletes’ alcohol use. Young athletes’ increased social standing and pressure to maintain academic and sport performances may create increased demands, and socialization processes may encourage the association between sports and alcohol consumption [52,54]. Therefore, perceptions of increased demands or greater difficulty in managing challenges, along with a ‘normalization’ of drinking, may contribute to an increase in adolescent athletes’ alcohol consumption. Peer group influence and parental norms are important in predicting adolescent athletes’ alcohol use, which suggest key opportunities for intervention and education [54]. Parent communication and modelling of appropriate behaviours may be a viable avenue for decreasing adolescent athletes’ alcohol consumption. Researchers may wish to examine the efficacy of team and parental interventions to examine the short-term and long-term effects on adolescent athletes’ alcohol use.

Over the past 18 months, researchers have established evidence for psychosocial challenges and clinical concerns among adolescent athletes; however, one limitation is a lack of studies adopting intervention or experimental studies designed to target these issues among young athletes. There is a need for studies which evaluate the effectiveness of educational or preventive programmes regarding disordered eating or substance abuse, to improve parental involvement in sport, and to enhance coping among adolescent athletes. Moving forward, it would be worthwhile for researchers to consider intervention research aimed at adolescent athletes as well as members of their social network to promote psychosocial well being and lifelong sport participation.

Back to Top | Article Outline


Sport may serve as a context for youth development; however, there are demands and pressures inherent in competitive contexts which may be stressful and potentially overwhelming for adolescent athletes. Athletes’ coping in sport contexts may be valuable for learning to deal with stressors, but in some extreme cases athletes may engage in maladaptive behaviours such as disordered eating, substance abuse, and steroid use to deal with the demands of sport. Progress is being made in understanding how athletes perceive psychosocial challenges in sport and how interventions can equip young athletes with the necessary coping skills to manage their demands in an adaptive manner.

Back to Top | Article Outline


During the preparation of this manuscript K.A.T. was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

P.R.E.C. was supported by a standard research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Back to Top | Article Outline
Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

Back to Top | Article Outline


Papers of particular interest, published within the annual period of review, have been highlighted as:

▪ of special interest

▪▪ of outstanding interest

Additional references related to this topic can also be found in the Current World Literature section in this issue (p. 332).

Back to Top | Article Outline


1. Côté J, Strachan L, Fraser-Thomas J. Holt NL. Participation, personal development, and performance through youth sport. Positive youth development through sport. New York:Routledge; 2008. 34–45.

2. Weiss M, Wiese-Bjornstal D. Promoting positive youth development through physical activity. President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Research Digest 2009; 10:1–8.

3. Schumacher Dimech A, Seiler R. The association between extra-curricular sport participation and social anxiety symptoms in children. J Clin Sport Psychol 2010; 4:191–203.

4▪. Schumacher Dimech A, Seiler R. Extra-curricular sport participation: a potential buffer against social anxiety symptoms in primary school children. Psychol Sport Exerc 2011; 12:347–354.doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2011.03.007.

A repeated-measures cohort study among 208 children (mean age = 7.86 years) investigating the potential benefits of youth sport participation. Findings suggest that children participating in team sports had fewer symptoms of social anxiety than those participating in individual sports or no sport participation.

5. Fraser-Thomas J, Côté J. Understanding adolescents’ positive and negative developmental experiences in sport. Sport Psychol 2009; 23:3–23.

6. Anshel MH, Delaney J. Sources of acute stress, cognitive appraisals, and coping strategies of male and female child athletes. J Sport Behav 2001; 24:329–353.

7. Gould D, Wilson CG, Tuffey S, Lochbaum M. Stress and the young athlete: the child's perspective. Pediatr Exerc Sci 1993; 5:286–297.

8. Lazarus RS. Stress and emotion: a new synthesis. New York:Springer; 1999.

9. Tamminen KA, Holt NL. A meta-study of qualitative research examining stressor appraisals and coping among adolescents in sport. J Sports Sci 2010; 28:1563–1580.doi: 10.1080/02640414.2010.512642.

10. Nicholls A, Polman RCJ. Coping in sport: a systematic review. J Sports Sci 2007; 25:11–31.doi: 10.1080/02640410600630654.

11. Kristiansen E, Roberts GC. Young elite athletes and social support: coping with competitive and organizational stress in ‘Olympic’ competition. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2009; 20:686–695.doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.00950.x.

12. Nicholls A, Holt NL, Polman RCJ, James DWG. Stress and coping among international adolescent golfers. J Appl Sport Psychol 2005; 17:333–340.doi: 10.1080/10413200500313644.

13. Reeves CW, Nicholls AR, McKenna J. Longitudinal analyses of stressors, perceived control, and coping effectiveness among early and middle adolescent soccer players. Int J Sport Psychol 2011; 42:186–203.

14. Tamminen KT, Holt NL. Female adolescent athletes’ coping: a season-long investigation. J Sports Sci 2010; 28:101–114.doi: 10.1080/02640410903406182.

15. Lazarus RS, Folkman S. Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York:Springer; 1984.

16. Gaudreau P, Nicholls AR, Levy AR. The ups and downs of sports performance: a diary analysis of stress, coping, and performance. J Sport Exerc Psychol 2010; 32:298–311.

17. Smith RE. Toward a cognitive-affective model of athletic burnout. J Sport Psychol 1986; 8:36–50.

18. Kolt GS, Kirkby RJ, Lindner H. Coping processes in competitive gymnasts: gender differences. Percept Mot Skills 1995; 81:1139–1145.

19. Gaudreau P, Blondin JP. Differential associations of dispositional optimism and pessimism with coping, goal attainment, and emotional adjustment during sport competition. Int J Stress Manage 2004; 11:245–269.doi: 10.1037/1072-5245.11.3.245.

20. Gaudreau P, Blondin JP, Lapierre AM. Athletes’ coping during a competition: relationship of coping strategies with positive affect, negative affect, and performance-goal discrepancy. Psychol Sport Exerc 2002; 3:125–150.

21. Crocker PRE, Graham TR. Coping by competitive athletes with performance stress: gender differences and relationships with affect. Sport Psychol 1995; 9:325–338.

22. Kowalski KC, Crocker PRE, Hoar SD, Niefer CB. Adolescents’ control beliefs and coping with stress in sport. Int J Sport Psychol 2005; 36:257–272.

23. Tamres LK, Janicki D, Helgeson VS. Sex differences in coping behavior: a meta-analytic review and examination of relative coping. Pers Soc Psychol 2002; 6:2–30.

24. Hoar SD, Crocker PRE, Holt NL, Tamminen KA. Gender differences in adolescent athletes’ coping with interpersonal stressors in sport: more similarities than differences? J Appl Sport Psychol 2010; 22:134–149.doi: 10.1080/10413201003664640.

25▪. Reeves CW, Nicholls AR, McKenna J. The effects of a coping intervention on coping self-efficacy, coping effectiveness, and subjective performance among adolescent soccer players. Int J Sport Exerc Psychol 2011; 9:126–142.doi: 10.1080/1612197X.2011.567104.

One of only a few coping intervention studies conducted among adolescent athletes. This study provides preliminary evidence for a theoretically driven intervention; however, because of its limited sample size and short follow-up period, further research is required to extend these findings.

26. Nicholls AR, Holt NL, Polman RCJ. A phenomenological analysis of coping effectiveness in golf. Sport Psychol 2005; 19:111–130.

27▪. Nicolas M, Gaudreau P, Franche V. Perception of coaching behaviors, coping, and achievement in a sport competition. J Sport Exerc Psychol 2011; 33:460–468.

This study demonstrates the importance of supportive coaching behaviours on athletes’ use of task-oriented coping and goal attainment. Task-oriented coping partially mediated the relationship between athletes’ perceptions of supportive coaching behaviours and goal attainment.

28. Fredricks JA, Eccles JS. Weiss MR. Parental influences on youth involvement in sports. Developmental sport and exercise psychology: a lifespan perspective. Morgantown, WV:Fitness Information Technology; 2004. 145–164.

29. Goyen MJ, Anshel MH. Sources of acute competitive stress and use of coping strategies as a function of age and gender. J Appl Dev Psychol 1998; 19:469–486.doi:

30. Lauer L, Gould D, Roman N, Pierce M. Parental behaviors that affect junior tennis player development. Psychol Sport Exerc 2010; 11:487–496.doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2010.06.008.

31. Knight CJ, Boden CM, Holt NL. Junior tennis players’ preferences for parental behaviors. J Appl Sport Psychol 2010; 22:377–391.doi: 10.1080/10413200.2010.495324.

32. Knight CJ, Neely KC, Holt NL. Parental behaviors in team sports: how do female athletes want parents to behave? J Appl Sport Psychol 2011; 23:76–92.doi: 10.1080/10413200.2010.525589.

33▪. Tamminen KA, Holt NL. Adolescent athletes’ learning about coping and the roles of parents and coaches. Psychol Sport Exerc 2012; 13:69–79.doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2011.07.006.

This study proposes a theoretical model regarding adolescent athletes’ process of learning about coping, suggesting possible strategies for improving athletes’ coping via the influence of parents and coaches.

34. Schaal K, Tafflet M, Nassif H, et al. Psychological balance in high level athletes: gender-based differences and sport-specific patterns. PLoS ONE 2011; 6:1–9.doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019007.

35. Petrie TA, Greenleaf CA. Tenenbaum G, Eklund RC. Eating disorders in sport: from theory to research to intervention. Handbook of sport psychology 3rd ed.Hoboken, NJ:Wiley; 2007. 352–378.

36. Hausenblas HA, McNally KD. Eating disorder prevalence and symptoms for track and field athletes and nonathletes. J Appl Sport Psychol 2004; 16:274–286.doi: 10.1080/10413200490485630.

37. Thein-Nissembaum JM, Carr KE. Female athlete triad syndrome in the high school athlete. Phys Ther Sport 2011; 12:108–116.doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2011.04.002.

38. Byrne SM. Fairburn CG, Brownell KD. Sport, occupation, and eating disorders. Eating disorders and obesity 2nd ed.New York:Guilford Press; 2002. 256–259.

39. Bryant-Waugh R, Lask B. Fairburn CG, Brownell KD. Childhood-onset eating disorders. Eating disorders and obesity 2nd ed.New York:Guilford Press; 2002. 210–214.

40. Cumming SP, Standage M, Loney T, et al. The mediating role of physical self-concept on relations between biological maturity status and physical activity in adolescent females. J Adolesc 2011; 34:465–473.doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2010.06.006.

41. Malina RM, Bouchard C, Bar-Or O. Growth, maturation and physical activity. Champaign, IL:Human Kinetics; 2004.

42. Rosendahl J, Bormann B, Aschenbrenner K, et al. Dieting and disordered eating in German high school athletes and nonathletes. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2009; 19:731–739.

43▪. Krentz EM, Warschburger P. A longitudinal investigation of sports-related risk factors for disordered eating in aesthetic sports. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2011. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2011.01380.x. [Epub ahead of print]

Although most research has been cross-sectional, this was a longitudinal study examining sport-related variables which may contribute to disordered eating among young athletes. Social pressure to be thin increased at 1-year follow up among women but not among men; findings suggest that athletes may be at risk for developing disordered eating if they believe it will help improve performance.

44. Thompson RA, Sherman RT. Eating disorders in sport. New York:Routledge; 2010.

45. Van Durme K, Goossens L, Braet C. Adolescent aesthetic athletes: a group at risk for eating pathology? Eat Behav 2011; 13:119–122.doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2011.11.002.

46. Martens R, Burton D, Rivkin F, Simon J. Nadeau CH, Halliwell WC, Newell KM, Roberts GC. Reliability and validity of the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory (CSAI). Psychology of motor behavior and sport. Champaign, IL:Human Kinetics; 1980. 91–99.

47▪. Martinsen M, Bratland-Sanda S, Eriksson AK, Sundgot-Borgen J. Dieting to win or to be thin? A study of dieting and disordered eating among adolescent elite athletes and nonathlete controls. Br J Sports Med 2010; 44:70–76.doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2009.068668.

Findings suggest that dieting and weight control are more prevalent among controls than athletes; however, athletes’ motivations to diet and engage in disordered eating include losing weight and improving performance, whereas controls’ motivations concerned improving appearance. Interventions to reduce disordered eating should target specific motivations in athletic and nonathletic populations.

48. Reel J, SooHoo S, Petrie T, et al. Slimming down for sport: developing a weight pressures in sport measure for female athletes. J Clin Sport Psychol 2010; 4:99–111.

49. Haase AM. Physique anxiety and disordered eating correlates in female athletes: differences in team and individual sports. J Clin Sport Psychol 2009; 3:218–231.

50. Greenleaf C, Petrie T, Reel J, Carter J. Psychosocial risk factors of bulimic symptomatology among female athletes. J Clin Sport Psychol 2010; 4:177–190.

51. Sundgot-Borgen J, Torstveit MK. Prevalence of eating disorders in elite athletes is higher than in the general population. Clin J Sport Med 2004; 14:25–32.

52. Lisha NE, Sussman S. Relationship of high school and college sports participation with alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use: a review. Addict Behav 2010; 35:399–407.doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2009.12.032.

53▪. Terry-McElrath YM, O’Malley PM. Substance use and exercise participation among young adults: parallel trajectories in a national cohort-sequential study. Addiction 2011; 106:1855–1865.doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03489.x.

This study examined the trajectories of smoking, drug, and alcohol use among 11 741 graduating high school students. Increased participation in sport, athletics or exercising was associated with lowered substance use frequency and prevalence during early adulthood; however, the authors argue for targeted alcohol prevention strategies for high school team sports.

54. Davies FM, Foxall GR. Involvement in sport and intention to consume alcohol: an exploratory study of UK adolescents. J Appl Soc Psychol 2011; 41:2284–2311. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2011.00806.x.

55. Zelli A, Lucidi F, Mallia L. The relationships among adolescents’ drive for muscularity, drive for thinness, doping attitudes, and doping intentions. J Clin Sport Psychol 2010; 4:39–52.

56▪. Goulet C, Valois P, Buist A, Côté M. Predictors of the use of performance-enhancing substances by young athletes. Clin J Sport Med 2010; 20:243–248.

This study used the Theory of Planned Behavior to examine athletes’ motivation to use (or not use) performance-enhancing substances (including alcohol, chocolate, creatine, soft drinks, recovery drinks, vitamin supplements, etc.). Behavioral intention was the strongest predictor of substance use; sportspersonship, attitude, subjective norm, pressure to gain weight, and perceptions of facilitating factors and perceived moral obligations also predicted athletes’ motivation regarding the use or nonuse of performance-enhancing substances.

57▪. Humphreys BR, Ruseski JE. Socio-economic determinants of adolescent use of performance enhancing drugs: evidence from the YRBSS. J Socioecon 2011; 40:208–216.doi: 10.1016/j.socec.2011.01.008.

This study used longitudinal data collected over 15 years to examine socio-economic determinants of steroid uses among adolescents. Single-sport athletes were less likely to use steroids than multisport athletes; within cohorts (e.g., freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior high school students) older athletes were more likely to use steroids than younger athletes. The authors suggest these findings may be because of economic motivations and expectations of rewards associated with sport achievement, such as athletic scholarship opportunities.

58▪. Thorlindsson T, Halldorsson V. Sport, and use of anabolic androgenic steroids among Icelandic high school students: a critical test of three perspectives. Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy 2010; 5:1–11.doi: 10.1186/1747-597X-5-32.

Tested three perspectives to explain steroid use among 11 031 adolescents. Findings suggest that substance use among adolescents is related to the social context outside sport and should be considered as a public policy and social health issue, rather than a sport-specific issue.

59. Dunn M, White V. The epidemiology of anabolic-androgenic steroid use among Australian secondary school students. J Sci Med Sport 2011; 14:10–14.doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2010.05.004.

60. Holt NL, editor. Positive youth development through sport. London: Routledge; 2008.

61. Papacharisis V, Goudas M, Danish SJ, Theodorakis Y. The effectiveness of teaching a life skills program in a sport context. J Appl Sport Psychol 2005; 17:247–254.doi: 10.1080/10413200591010139.


coach; coping; disordered eating; parent; sport; stressors; substance abuse

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.


Search for Similar Articles
You may search for similar articles that contain these same keywords or you may modify the keyword list to augment your search.