A qualitative study of acculturative stress amongst New Zealand rugby players in Japan

Shogo Tanaka, University of Otago, New Zealand

Theme: Anxiety, stress, and emotions

Poster Number: 2

Program ID: POS-1

Presentation: October 3, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


As a result of globalization, the cross-cultural movement of athletes has dramatically increased over the past few decades. For example, in 2010 there were 325 New Zealand rugby players playing their trade overseas, including 72 players based in Japan. Research evidence has demonstrated that people experience a number of difficulties during a process of cross-cultural transition that can potentially cause negative consequences such as decreased psychological well-being (e.g., Ward & Kennedy, 2001). However, previous literature examining the stressors in sport has generally overlooked the unique experiences of international athletes who compete in a different culture and different country. Utilizing Berry ‘s (1992, 1997) acculturation framework, the purpose of this qualitative study was to identify the cross-cultural adaptation stressors experienced by elite New Zealand rugby players in Japan. New Zealand rugby players (n=10) currently living and competing in the Japan Rugby Top League participated in one-on-one, in-depth interviews, which were subsequently transcribed verbatim and content analysed. The results revealed seven major stressors, including (i) nature of competitive rugby in Japan, (ii) training issues, (iii) adaptation issues regarding rugby differences, (iv) negative aspects of relationship within the team, (v) communication difficulties, (vi) adaptation issues in daily life, and (vii) relocation issues. The findings indicated that these players encountered various stressors that went beyond those associated with competitive sport. Practical implications will be outlined for players, coaches, and support staff regarding specific stress management strategies to help players adapt sooner and better to a different culture.

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