Investigating robust sport-confidence in elite athletes from dangerous sports

Peter Olusoga, Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom

Theme: Elite performance

Poster Number: 24

Program ID: POS-1

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

Room: Napoleon


Robust sport-confidence has been highlighted as an important characteristic for athletes to possess (Thomas, Lane, & Kingston, 2011). However, it is possible that athletes competing in dangerous sports (i.e., sports involving “activities that create significant risk of loss of, or serious impairment to, some basic capacity for human functioning”- Russell, 2005), might have different conceptualizations of robust sport-confidence, and of what is required to build and maintain it. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore perceptions of robust sport-confidence in elite athletes from dangerous sports. Eight current, or recently retired, British elite athletes (five men, three women) from sports including motor racing and downhill mountain biking took part in semi-structured interviews to capture perceptions of robust sport-confidence and danger in sport. Inductive content analysis identified lower-order, and higher-order themes representing characteristics of robust sport-confidence, and athlete beliefs about the role of robust sport-confidence in dangerous sports. Data were triangulated between researchers to ensure trustworthiness. While support was shown for the existing definition and characteristics of robust sport-confidence, themes specific to dangerous sports also emerged. For example, the higher-order theme ‘calculated risk’ conceptualized how athletes rationalize, and cope with, danger in sport (e.g., a constant assessment of danger in relation to ability). Several aspects of the relationship between robust sport-confidence and dangerous sport were highlighted, including benefits derived from increased levels of robust sport-confidence (e.g., overcoming challenges, and pushing fear aside), and techniques athletes employ for improving robust sport-confidence (e.g., reframing traumatic experiences, and adaptations to the training environment). Questions were raised regarding the relevance of robust sport-confidence to athletes in different life stages, and this warrants further investigation. The belief that robust sport-confidence occurs in varying degrees raises questions about the nature of this construct, and indicates more research is required to differentiate between resilient and robust confidence.

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