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Special Issue "Psychological Factors and Their Effect on the Health, Well-Being and Performance of Athletes"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Sport and Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2022) | Viewed by 12195

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Carlos Marques da Silva
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
CIEQV-Life Quality Research Centre, Escola Superior de Desporto de Rio Maior-IPSANTAREM, Avenida Dr. Mário Soares, 20413 RIO Maior, Portugal
Interests: sport psychology; sport performance; mental training

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Regular sports practice has a positive influence on the physical, mental, and psychological health of athletes at different levels and in a variety of contexts.  Sports performance depends not only on the physical qualities of athletes but also on psychological variables. In a competitive context, knowledge and manipulation of psychological variables such as attention, self-confidence, stress control, anxiety, motivation, cohesion, self-control, or emotional self-regulation, moods, and interpersonal skills can influence the performance and health of an athlete.

Even playing sports can generate feelings of fear of failure and the emergence of feelings of shame, creating a degree of insecurity, anxiety, or stress and avoidance behaviour in athletes, which can affect wellbeing, interpersonal behaviour, and sporting performance.

On the other hand, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has required the implementation of governamental restrictions, such as quarantine, to contain the spread of the virus. These restrictions may have caused additional fears and stress among athletes, since they were not able to train regularly and properly maintain their physical condition.  In addition, competitive sport is a means of socialising, which has an impact on player training, the promotion of a balanced sporting context, and the intention to continue practising the sport. Therefore, the physical and psychological wellbeing of athletes depends mainly on the social environments in which the sport is practised, that is, related to the significant agents in the environment, which social isolation due to the pandemic restrictions may have impaired.  

This Special Issue aims to bring together the latest research on these psychological factors that influence sports performance, physical, mental, and psychological health of athletes’ wellbeing and adherence to sport.

Prof. Dr. Manuel Gómez-López
Prof. Dr. Antonino Bianco
Prof. Dr. Carlos Marques da Silva
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • psychological well-being
  • sports performance
  • fear of failure
  • stress and anxiety
  • burn out
  • depression
  • fear of COVID-19
  • perfectionism
  • motivation
  • cognitive functions
  • social isolation
  • self-esteem and body image
  • aggressiveness and anger

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

Article
Restored Life of Elite Athletes after Spinal Cord Injury
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(14), 8441; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19148441 - 11 Jul 2022
Viewed by 363
Abstract
Spinal cord injury (SCI) affects every aspect of human life: medical, psychological, social, material. People with SCI face a variety of secondary conditions (e.g., chronic pain, urinary tract infections, cognitive impairment) that place a significant emotional burden, resulting in an increased risk of [...] Read more.
Spinal cord injury (SCI) affects every aspect of human life: medical, psychological, social, material. People with SCI face a variety of secondary conditions (e.g., chronic pain, urinary tract infections, cognitive impairment) that place a significant emotional burden, resulting in an increased risk of depression and reduced quality of life. The purpose of this study was to better understand the coping strategies and to identify factors that promote or hinder the successful adjustment of elite athletes after SCI. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight top athletes after spinal cord injury. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and then thematically analyzed using MAXQDA software. Thematic analysis identified the following categories: coping, athletic identity, and adjustment. The results of the study indicate that loss of functional ability does not cause loss of athlete identity. Elite athletes live a life consistent with this identity, attempting to maintain it despite the loss of physical fitness. Involvement in sports provides meaning and is a positive factor in the process of disability acceptance, which is essential in the process of adjustment to injury and also provides group belonging. Full article
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Article
Perfectionism, Resilience and Different Ways of Experiencing Sport during COVID-19 Confinement
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(10), 5994; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19105994 - 15 May 2022
Viewed by 655
Abstract
The relationship between sports practice and physical and mental health became an important issue during the COVID-19 pandemic, where keeping fit and exercising was one of the best and most popular ways to cope with the confinement situation. The aim of this study [...] Read more.
The relationship between sports practice and physical and mental health became an important issue during the COVID-19 pandemic, where keeping fit and exercising was one of the best and most popular ways to cope with the confinement situation. The aim of this study was to determine the relationships between perfectionism and resilient resources with psychological well-being, differentiating sports category, gender and experience in a sample of athletes during confinement in different countries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. An incidental and cross-sectional random sampling method was designed (n = 583). The sample was analysed with three different instruments, evaluating perfectionism, resilience and psychological well-being patterns and comparing three groups with different levels of practice due to confinement (full reduction, moderate reduction and only access restrictions). Results show that both male and senior athletes were more organized, resistant to changes and focused their attention and efforts on their demands and potential. They were stimulated by obstacles that required more effort compared to U23, who reported higher concerns and lower organisational scores. Athletes who completely interrupted their sports dynamics showed higher indicators of perfectionism and performed worse in resilience and well-being. Despite this, age and the variability of the athletes’ experiences proved to be relevant factors in an athlete’s trajectory, and continued to represent a certain degree of balance in the face of COVID-19. Full article
Article
Relationships among Sports Group Cohesion, Psychological Collectivism, Mental Toughness and Athlete Engagement in Chinese Team Sports Athletes
by and
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(9), 4987; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19094987 - 20 Apr 2022
Viewed by 516
Abstract
Background: Cohesion is an important factor affecting sports performance. This study constructed a mediating model to explore the mechanism of cohesion toward psychological collectivism, mental toughness, and athlete engagement of Chinese team sports athletes, and to investigate the mediating effect of psychological collectivism [...] Read more.
Background: Cohesion is an important factor affecting sports performance. This study constructed a mediating model to explore the mechanism of cohesion toward psychological collectivism, mental toughness, and athlete engagement of Chinese team sports athletes, and to investigate the mediating effect of psychological collectivism and mental toughness on cohesion and athlete engagement. Methods: A total of 326 active Chinese athletes (54% males, 46% females) aged 14 to 26 years (M = 19.63, SD = 6.51) from eight sports were investigated by questionnaire. Results: The athlete engagement can be predicted significantly and positively by cohesion and its dimensions, and ATG-T is more important in advantage analysis. Direct and indirect paths indicate that cohesion affects athlete engagement, through the mediating effects of psychological collectivism, the mediating effects of mental toughness, the serial multiple mediating of psychological collectivism and mental toughness. The mediating effect model had a satisfactory goodness of fit and explained 50.5% of the variance in athlete engagement, and the SEM revealed the mechanism of cohesion in Chinese athlete engagement to a certain extent. Conclusion: Psychological collectivism is the embodiment of high-quality cohesion in Chinese team sports. The increase in cohesion and psychological collectivism can improve Chinese athletes’ ability to cope with stressful situations in sports, which may allow them to achieve a better performance through athlete engagement. Full article
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Article
Biological, Psychological, and Physical Performance Variations in Football Players during the COVID-19 Lockdown: A Prospective Cohort Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(5), 2739; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19052739 - 26 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 741
Abstract
This prospective cohort study aimed to evaluate whether COVID-19 lockdown caused biological, psychological, and/or physical performance variations in footballers. We compared the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 seasons evaluating the plasma volume, hematological parameters, iron/ferritin, creatine kinase, vitamin D, cortisol, testosterone, and physiological state of [...] Read more.
This prospective cohort study aimed to evaluate whether COVID-19 lockdown caused biological, psychological, and/or physical performance variations in footballers. We compared the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 seasons evaluating the plasma volume, hematological parameters, iron/ferritin, creatine kinase, vitamin D, cortisol, testosterone, and physiological state of players of the Italian football major league (Serie A). Measurements were performed before the preparatory period (T0), at the beginning (T1) and in the middle (T2) of the championship, and in March (T3) and at the end of season (T4). The results showed that in the 2019/2020 season affected by the lockdown, the weight, BMI, and fat mass percentage were higher than in the previous season. Hematocrit, hemoglobin, red blood cells, and ferritin decreased during both seasons, more significantly than in the regular season. During both seasons, creatine kinase increased from T2 whilst iron concentrations decreased in T3. Testosterone increased in both seasons from T0 to T3 and returned to initial levels at T4; cortisol increased in T2 and T3 during the 2018/2019 season but not during the COVID-19 season. Physical performance tests revealed differences associated with lockdown. Thus, although from a medical point of view, none of the evaluated changes between the two seasons were clinically relevant, training at home during lockdown did not allow the players to maintain the jumping power levels typical of a competitive period. Full article
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Article
Anthropometric, Physiological, and Psychological Variables That Determine the Elite Pistol Performance of Women
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(3), 1102; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031102 - 19 Jan 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 740
Abstract
Shooting is a high-precision sport that depends on many factors to achieve high performance levels. The main objective of this study was to analyze the differences in anthropometric, physiological, and psychological variables by sport level in women air-pistol shooters. Fifteen female pistol shooters, [...] Read more.
Shooting is a high-precision sport that depends on many factors to achieve high performance levels. The main objective of this study was to analyze the differences in anthropometric, physiological, and psychological variables by sport level in women air-pistol shooters. Fifteen female pistol shooters, including seven elite national shooters of Iran and eight non-elite shooters, participated in this study. Analyzed variables were grouped into three sections: anthropometric, physiological, and psychological. Anthropometric variables included: height, weight, body mass index, length of leg, arm span, and proportions between variables. Physiological tests include resting heart rate, static and dynamic balance, flexibility, and upper body strength. Additionally, psychological questionnaires of SMS-6 sport motivation, TSCI trait sport-confidence and SSCI state sport-confidence, ACSI-28 athletic coping skills, and SAS sport anxiety scale were used. The Shapiro–Wilks test and independent t-test were used to analyze the data. Effect size and test reliability were calculated using Cohen’s d and Cronbach’s alpha, respectively. Our results showed that elite shooters have higher values of dynamic balance (Y-test), upper body strength (sit-ups), and intrinsic motivation, and lower resting heart rate than non-elite. However, no differences were found in the anthropometric variables, nor in anxiety or coping skills. We conclude that physiological and psychological workouts should be included in the shooters’ training programs to improve their performance. Full article
Article
Sports Level and the Personality of American Football Players in Poland
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(24), 13026; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182413026 - 10 Dec 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 901
Abstract
Research on personality in sport is very popular as it allows prediction of the behavior of players in the starting situation. Hence, verifications of players due to their sports level may turn out to be crucial. Due to the dynamic development of American [...] Read more.
Research on personality in sport is very popular as it allows prediction of the behavior of players in the starting situation. Hence, verifications of players due to their sports level may turn out to be crucial. Due to the dynamic development of American football in Poland, we undertook research to verify the relationship between the sports level and the personality of these players. The Big Five personality study that we carried out involved players aged from 20 to 29—the representatives of American football clubs in Poland (N = 140) from three league games levels: LFA 1 (n = 75), LFA 2 (n = 40), and LFA 9 (n = 25). The NEO-FFI personality questionnaire was used as a research tool. The players from the top-level games were characterized by their openness to experience, the level of which decreases along with the decrease in the players’ sports levels. The differences in openness to experience were revealed, first of all, in divergent thinking and creativity. It was ascertained that openness to experience is a characteristic personality trait for American football players in Poland. Therefore, systematic conduct of personality tests among American football players in Poland, in the process of selecting candidates for the highest levels of football competition, would be recommended. This might significantly affect the development of the sports level of this discipline in Poland. The obtained results of research on personality may, moreover, prove to be useful in selecting players and improving the predictions of important sports behaviors in American football in Poland. Full article
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Article
Perfectionism, Mood States, and Choking in Asian University Baseball Players under Pressure during a Game
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(23), 12856; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182312856 - 06 Dec 2021
Viewed by 688
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to investigate relationships among mood states, perfectionism, and choking, and to identify a mediating effect of perfectionism on the relationship between mood states and choking experienced by Asian university baseball players in extremely stressful situations during a [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study was to investigate relationships among mood states, perfectionism, and choking, and to identify a mediating effect of perfectionism on the relationship between mood states and choking experienced by Asian university baseball players in extremely stressful situations during a game. Data collected from a total of 209 male university baseball players were analyzed using SPSS 21 and AMOS 21 statistical software. The mean age of study subjects was 20.25 years. Results are as follows. First, mood states had a positive influence on perfectionism. Second, mood states had no significant influence on choking. Third, perfectionism had a positive influence on choking. Lastly, perfectionism had a complete mediating effect on the relationship between mood states and choking. The study findings will provide basic data to relieve athletes’ psychological burdens, and prevent manifestations of extreme perfectionism and choking, which can ultimately help athletes maintain high self-control of their mood states and perfectionism for better performance. Full article
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Article
The Influence of an Alpha Band Neurofeedback Training in Heart Rate Variability in Athletes
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(23), 12579; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182312579 - 29 Nov 2021
Viewed by 876
Abstract
Neurofeedback training is a technique which has seen a widespread use in clinical applications, but has only given its first steps in the sport environment. Therefore, there is still little information about the effects that this technique might have on parameters, which are [...] Read more.
Neurofeedback training is a technique which has seen a widespread use in clinical applications, but has only given its first steps in the sport environment. Therefore, there is still little information about the effects that this technique might have on parameters, which are relevant for athletes’ health and performance, such as heart rate variability, which has been linked to physiological recovery. In the sport domain, no studies have tried to understand the effects of neurofeedback training on heart rate variability, even though some studies have compared the effects of doing neurofeedback or heart rate biofeedback training on performance. The main goal of the present study was to understand if alpha-band neurofeedback training could lead to increases in heart rate variability. 30 male student-athletes, divided into two groups, (21.2 ± 2.62 year 2/week protocol and 22.6 ± 1.1 year 3/week protocol) participated in the study, of which three subjects were excluded. Both groups performed a pre-test, a trial session and 12 neurofeedback sessions, which consisted of 25 trials of 60 s of a neurofeedback task, with 5 s rest in-between trials. The total neurofeedback session time for each subject was 300 min in both groups. Throughout the experiment, electroencephalography and heart rate variability signals were recorded. Only the three sessions/week group revealed significant improvements in mean heart rate variability at the end of the 12 neurofeedback sessions (p = 0.05); however, significant interaction was not found when compared with both groups. It is possible to conclude that neurofeedback training of individual alpha band may induce changes in heart rate variability in physically active athletes. Full article
Article
The Role of Gender in Association between Emotional Intelligence and Self-Control among University Student-Athletes
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(22), 11819; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182211819 - 11 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 731
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to reveal the peculiarities of undergraduate studies university student-athletes’ emotional intelligence and self-control indicators, and the role of gender as a predictor in the association between emotional intelligence and self-control. The study included students regularly involved in [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study was to reveal the peculiarities of undergraduate studies university student-athletes’ emotional intelligence and self-control indicators, and the role of gender as a predictor in the association between emotional intelligence and self-control. The study included students regularly involved in training at least three times a week. The sample consisted of 1395 student athletes from Lithuanian universities, among them 59.2% female and 40.8% male. For measurement, the SSRI inventory and a self-control scale were used. All values of emotional intelligence indicators were significantly higher for males than females. Estimates of the components of the self-control construct varied. The score for the healthy habits component was significantly higher for women than for men, the self-discipline component did not differ significantly, and the other three components were higher for males. Estimates of the components of the self-control construct varied. Models for predicting the values of self-control components were proposed. Only one component of the emotional intelligence construct, optimism, was repeated in all forecasting models, as well as gender. Other components of emotional intelligence vary in models. Full article
Article
Predictive Strength of Contextual and Personal Variables in Soccer Players’ Goal Orientations
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(17), 9401; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18179401 - 06 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1129
Abstract
Psychological variables, such as perceived motivational climate, goal orientation, self-determined motivation, and personality, have an influence on sports success performance. This study aimed to examine the relationships among a set of psychological variables (perceived motivational climate, goal orientation, self-determined motivation, and personality) in [...] Read more.
Psychological variables, such as perceived motivational climate, goal orientation, self-determined motivation, and personality, have an influence on sports success performance. This study aimed to examine the relationships among a set of psychological variables (perceived motivational climate, goal orientation, self-determined motivation, and personality) in male and female footballers. Participants were 167 footballers (106 male, 61 female), aged 12 to 26, competing with clubs in the Spanish Football League. They all took four questionnaires aimed at evaluating motivational climate, goal orientations, self-determined motivation, and personality. The analyses of correlation and regression showed statistically significant relations among the variables. Neuroticism and psychoticism negatively relate to mastery motivational climate, the best predictor of self-determined motivation. It was concluded that contextual variables carry more weight in predicting goal orientations and self-determined motivation among participant footballers. Full article
Article
Personality Determinants of Success in Men’s Sports in the Light of the Big Five
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(12), 6297; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18126297 - 10 Jun 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1462
Abstract
The aim of the study is to describe personality profiles and determinants of success in sports in relation to the Big Five Personality Model. In order to achieve this aim, personality profiles of players from various sports disciplines was set against the personality [...] Read more.
The aim of the study is to describe personality profiles and determinants of success in sports in relation to the Big Five Personality Model. In order to achieve this aim, personality profiles of players from various sports disciplines was set against the personality profile of champions—players who are considerably successful in sports competitions. Subsequently, an attempt was made to determine which personality traits significantly determine belonging to the group of champions—and therefore determine success in sport. The participants were men aged between 20 and 29 from the Polish population of sportsmen. A total of 1260 athletes were tested, out of whom 118 were qualified to the champions sample—those athletes had significant sports achievements. The research used the NEO-FFI Personality Questionnaire. Basic descriptive statistics, a series of Student’s t-tests for independent samples using the bootstrapping method, as well as a logistic regression model were performed. In relation to other athletes, champions were characterized by a lower level of neuroticism and a higher level of extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. An important personality determinant was neuroticism: the lower the level of neuroticism, the greater the probability of an athlete being classified as a champion. There are differences between champions and other athletes in all personality dimensions in terms of the Big Five. Based on the result of the research, it can be stated that personality differences should be seen as a consequence of athletes’ success, rather than as a reason for athletes’ success, based on their age between 20 and 29. Full article
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Article
Sleep Quality in Chilean Professional Soccer Players
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(11), 5866; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18115866 - 29 May 2021
Viewed by 1490
Abstract
Recent research has shown that good sleep quality has a positive effect on physical performance. However, sleep quality in Chilean professional soccer players is unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine sleep quality in Chilean professional soccer players. It was a [...] Read more.
Recent research has shown that good sleep quality has a positive effect on physical performance. However, sleep quality in Chilean professional soccer players is unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine sleep quality in Chilean professional soccer players. It was a cross-sectional, explanatory study with observable variables. The sample consisted of 94 Chilean male soccer players belonging to four professional clubs. The main variable was the Sleep Quality Index, evaluated through the Pittsburgh questionnaire (Spanish version). After estimating sleep quality individually, the four professional soccer clubs’ comparison was performed through a one-factor ANOVA. The Pearson test was used to relate the questionnaire variables; the significance level was p < 0.05. In the global analysis of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, a value of 4.75 ± 2.29 on a scale of 0–21 was observed, with no significant differences between the clubs evaluated (p > 0.05). Based on the results obtained, Chilean male professional soccer players present good sleep quality. However, the high values of “sleep latency” and “sleep disturbances” are indicators that should be worked on by the multidisciplinary team of each professional club. They should develop strategies to improve sleep hygiene, encourage good sleep, and fall asleep efficiently. Full article
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