Stress, control, and coping in elite athletes

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 1998 Jun;8(3):183-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.1998.tb00190.x.


The main object of this study was to explore different dimensions of the stress experience and the following coping efforts among elite athletes. Sixty-nine Norwegian Winter Olympic athletes, competing in the Lille-hammer Games in 1994 participated in the study. Recall of the most stressful experiences was reported through open-ended questions following the Olympic Games, and the actual time of the experience with the following coping efforts were measured with the COPE inventory (19). The stress was mainly experienced during the time period prior to the competition. External distractions and expectations were the most frequently reported stress experiences. The coach was viewed as a major source of stress by some athletes, with a subsequent lack of control and low satisfaction with performance. Type of stress more than the time of the experience seemed to have a detrimental effect on performance. Problem-focused coping strategies were employed at all times, while cognitive defense strategies were employed more days before (time phase 1) and after the competition (time phase 4).

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Sports / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological*