The main aim of the research was to distinguish different types of sport competition appraisals and verify if athletes' interpretation of a stressful situation changed their choice of coping methods. Athletes change their perception during competitions; thus, we assumed that configuration of different ways of interpreting stressful events is more important for coping than one particular appraisal. In total, 193 athletes filled out The Stress Appraisal Questionnaire and The Sport Stress-Coping Strategies Questionnaire to describe their stress appraisals and undertaken coping strategies during a remembered competition that took place within a month before the study. The athletes most often appraised stressful competitions as a challenge. They preferred the coping strategy of being determined to accomplish the established goal. The athletes hardly applied techniques that constituted the basis of mental training. The cluster analysis of the competitors determined three types of sport competition appraisals: positive, negative, and active. An ANOVA with post hoc comparisons showed that participants who revealed positive appraisals undertook the highest number of actions aimed at reaching goals and least frequently sought support. Athletes should be taught not only specific strategies for coping with stress, but also more frequent use of positive judgments of sports competitions.
Keywords: athletes; coping; primary appraisal; stress.