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Revista Portuguesa de Ciências do Desporto

Print version ISSN 1645-0523


DIAS, Cláudia; CRUZ, José Fernando  and  FONSECA, António Manuel. Emotions, stress, anxiety and coping: A qualitative study with elite athletes. Rev. Port. Cien. Desp. [online]. 2009, vol.9, n.1, pp.9-23. ISSN 1645-0523.

The influence of psychological factors on athletes` sport performance is, in general, well documented. However, few investigations used a qualitative methodology, which gives a more detailed and profound perspective of athlete`s emotions and cognitions. In this sense, using a semi-structured interview with 11 Portuguese elite athletes from different sports, aged between 22 and 36 (M=30.64±4.84), the present study aimed to identify their major sources of stress and anxiety and the coping strategies they used in problematic and stressful situations, as well as to explore the role of other emotions, other than anxiety, in competitive performance. The results showed that: i) the major sources of stress were common to the different sports, and were related with the nature of competition, external pressures and the athletes` performance; ii) the athletes used several coping strategies simultaneously, usually adaptative, either problem or emotion-focused; iii) in addition to anxiety, there were other positive and negative emotions that influenced athletes` performance.

Keywords : stress; anxiety; coping; emotions; elite athletes; qualitative research.

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