Perfectionism and training distress in junior athletes: a longitudinal investigation

J Sports Sci. 2017 Mar;35(5):470-475. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2016.1172726. Epub 2016 Apr 7.


Perfectionistic athletes may train harder and for longer than non-perfectionistic athletes, leaving them susceptible to elevated levels of training distress. So far, however, no study has investigated the relationships between perfectionism and training distress, a key indicator of overtraining syndrome. Furthermore, no study has determined psychological predictors of overtraining syndrome. Using a two-wave design, the present study examined perfectionistic strivings, perfectionistic concerns and training distress in 141 junior athletes (mean age = 17.3 years, range = 16-19 years) over 3 months of active training. Multiple regression analyses were employed to test cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships between perfectionism and training distress. In all analyses, perfectionism emerged as a significant predictor, but strivings and concerns showed differential relationships. When the cross-sectional relationships were regarded, perfectionistic concerns positively predicted training distress (P < .001), whereas perfectionistic strivings negatively predicted training distress (P < .01). When the longitudinal relationships were regarded, only perfectionistic concerns predicted increases in training distress (P < .05), whereas perfectionistic strivings did not (P > .05). The findings suggest that sports scientists who wish to identify athletes at risk of overtraining syndrome may monitor athletes' perfectionistic concerns as a possible risk factor.

Keywords: Perfectionistic strivings; junior athletes; longitudinal study; overtraining; perfectionistic concerns; training distress.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletes / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Perfectionism*
  • Physical Conditioning, Human / psychology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Young Adult