2020, Volume 16
Stress and coping during the COVID-19 pandemic among martial arts athletes – a cross-cultural study
RYSZARD MAKAROWSKI1, ANDRZEJ PIOTROWSKI2, RADU PREDOIU3, KAROL GÖRNER4, ALEXANDRA PREDOIU5, GEORGETA MITRACHE3, ROMUALDAS MALINAUSKAS6, KONSTANTIN BOCHAVER7, LYDIA DOVZHIK7, EVGENY CHEREPOV8, ZERMENA VAZNE9, NÉSTOR VICENTE-SALAR10, IMADUDDIN HAMZAH11, MÁRTA MIKLÓSI12, KLÁRA KOVÁCS13, ZAHRA NIKKHAH-FARKHANI14
1Faculty of Health Sciences, Elblag University of Humanities and Economics, Elblag, Poland
2Department of Personality Psychology and Forensic Psychology, Institute of Psychology, University of Gdańsk, Gdańsk, Poland
3Teachers\\\' Training Department, National University of Physical Education and Sports, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Bucharest, Romania
4Faculty of Arts, Matej Bel University, Banska Bystrica, Slovak Republic
5Sports and Motor Performance Department, National University of Physical Education and Sports, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Bucharest, Romania
6Department of Physical and Social Education, Lithuanian Sports University, Kaunas, Lithuania
7Moscow Institute of Psychoanalysis, Sport Psychology Lab, Moscow, Russia
8Department of Physical Education and Health, South-Ural State University, Chelyabinsk, Russia
9Department of Sport and Training Theory, Latvian Academy of Sport Education, Riga, Latvia
10Department of Applied Biology-Nutrition, University Miguel Hernandez, Elche, Spain
11Department of Community Guidance, Correctional Polytechnic, Jakarta, Indonesia
12Department of Pedagogical Psychology, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary
13Institute of Educational Studies, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary
14Business Management Department, University of Bojnord, Bojnord, Iran
Author for correspondence: RADU PREDOIU; Teachers\\\' Training Department, National University of Physical Education and Sports, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Bucharest, Romania; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Background and Study Aims: Success in sports among athletes on a similar level of skill can depend on individual differences in experienced stress and coping strategies. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many areas of life, including sports. The aim of the current study was to verify two hypotheses: (H1) emotional tension, external stress, and intrapsychic stress among martial arts athletes will be significantly higher during the height of the pandemic than in the pre-pandemic period; (H2) martial arts athletes will less frequently use problem-focused strategies of coping with stress, such as active coping and planning, during the height of the pandemic.
Materials and Methods: The study used the Perception of Stress Questionnaire measuring the following dimensions of stress: emotional tension, external stress, and intrapsychic stress. Coping strategies were measured with the Brief COPE questionnaire distinguishing 14 coping strategies. Seven hundred and eighty-one athletes (including 116 martial arts athletes) from Poland, Romania, and Slovakia took part in the study in the pre-pandemic period. During the height of the pandemic, athletes from Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and Spain took part in the study (n = 1032, including 396 martial arts athletes).
Results: Higher levels of emotional tension, external stress, and intrapsychic stress were observed among Polish and Romanian martial arts athletes in the pre-pandemic period. Stress levels were higher before the pandemic than during its peak, when the lowest levels of emotional tension and external stress were reported by martial arts athletes in Romania, and the highest – in Lithuania and Spain. On the other hand, the lowest levels of intrapsychic stress were reported by martial arts athletes in Poland, and the highest – in Lithuania. Key gender-dependent strategies of coping with stress were identified. Male and female martial arts athletes used denial, focus on and venting of emotions, substance use, and acceptance. Additionally, men used self-blame and women used behavioural disengagement.
Conclusions: The effects of the pandemic do not involve an increase in subjectively perceived psychological stress among martial arts athletes from countries variously affected by the pandemic. The use of maladaptive coping strategies – denial, substance use, venting negative emotion etc. – allows for lowering the subjectively experienced stress (the emotional tension, external stress and intrapsychic stress) of martial arts athletes. It was the use of these strategies which facilitated lower stress levels. The second hypothesis, that martial arts athletes will less frequently use problem-focused strategies of coping with stress, such as active coping and planning, during the height of the pandemic, was confirmed.
Key words: pre-pandemic period, depression, chronic stress, anxiety, preventive strategies