2022, Volume 18
Experienced stress among martial arts athletes from selected European Union countries during the 4th wave of the covid-19 pandemic and the frequency of using coping strategies
RADU PREDOIU1, RYSZARD MAKAROWSKI2, ANDRZEJ PIOTROWSKI3, KAROL GÖRNER4, ALEXANDRA PREDOIU5, ROMUALDAS MALINAUSKAS6, MAURIZIO BERTOLLO7, SELENIA DI FRONSO7, ZERMENA VAZNE8, OLE BOE9, RAFAEL OLIVEIRA10, MÁRTA MIKLÓSI11, KLÁRA KOVÁCS11, CORINA CIOLCĂ12, DAN BADEA13, NÉSTOR VICENTE-SALAR14, MIHAI LUCIAN CIUNTEA15, SAMIR RAWAT16
1Teachers\\\' Training Department, National University of Physical Education and Sports, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, București, Romania
2Faculty of Administration and Social Sciences, Academy of Applied Medical and Social Sciences in Elblag, Elblag, Poland
3Department of Personality Psychology and Forensic Psychology, Institute of Psychology, University of Gdańsk, Gdańsk, Poland
4University of Presov, Faculty of Sports, Presov, Slovak Republic
5Sports and Motor Performance Department, National University of Physical Education and Sports, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, București, Romania
6Department of Physical and Social Education, Lithuanian Sports University, Kaunas, Lithuania
7Behavioral Imaging and Neural Dynamics Center, Department of Medicine and Aging Sciences, University “G. d’Annunzio” of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy
8Department of Sport and Training Theory, Education Psychology and Education Internship, Latvian Academy of Sport Education, Riga, Latvia
9Department of Business, Strategy and Political Sciences, University of South-Eastern Norway, Drammen, Norway
10Sports Science School of Rio Maior–Polytechnic Institute of Santarém, Rio Maior | Research Center in Sport Sciences, Health Sciences and Human Development, Vila Real | Life Quality Research Centre, Rio Maior, Portugal
11Institute of Educational Studies, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary
12Teachers\' Training Department, National University of Physical Education and Sports, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Bucharest, Romania
13Sports and Motor Performance Department, National University of Physical Education and Sports, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Bucharest, Romania
14Biochemistry and Cell Therapy Unit, Institute of Bioengineering, University Miguel Hernandez, Elche, Spain; Department of Applied Biology-Nutrition, Alicante Institute for Health and Biomedical Research (ISABIAL-FISABIO Foundation), University Miguel Hern, Elche, Spain
15Vasile Alecsandri University of Bacău, Faculty of Movement, Sport and Health Sciences, Bacău, Romania
16Militar MIND Academy, Pune, India
Author for correspondence: KAROL GÖRNER; University of Presov, Faculty of Sports, Presov, Slovak Republic; email: email@example.com
Background and Study Aims: In sports, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) affected variables such as training, recovery or athletes’ sleep quality, uncertainty about the future generating distress and anxiety in athletes. There are two cognitive purpose of the current study: knowledge about the subjectively experienced stress in martial arts athletes from selected Europe Union countries during the 4th wave of the pandemic; and knowledge of the likely of using coping strategies, and if so, with what frequency.
Material and Methods: Three hundred and forty-one competitive martial arts athletes from Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain were investigated (female n = 129, male n = 212). The athletes represented (according to division of the combat sports under forms of the direct confrontation): workings of weapons (fencing); hits (boxing, karate, kickboxing, Muay Thai, taekwondo); throws and grips of immobilization of opponent’s body (Brazilian jiu-jitsu, freestyle wrestling, judo) were investigated. In this paper we analyse workings of weapons and hits as conventional "striking combat sports" SCS (in consequence FSCS or MSCS – for female and male respectively), while throws and grips of immobilization of opponent's body as "grappling combat sports" GCS (FGCS and MGCS respectively). The Perception of Stress Questionnaire was used to measure intrapsychic stress, external stress and emotional tension in athletes, while through the Brief COPE questionnaire the frequency of use of 14 coping strategies was examined.
Results: The highest intrapsychic stress levels, during the 4th wave of the pandemic, were registered by Slovak athletes, external stress was the highest among Italian martial arts athletes, while the highest emotional tension levels were reported by Latvian athletes. The lowest values were observed in Lithuanian martial arts athletes, in all three stress dimensions. Also, martial arts athletes who have tested positive for COVID-19 reported significantly higher levels of stress and used (during the 4th wave) more frequent denial, behavioural disengagement and less frequent positive reframing (as coping strategies). Gender and type of sport-dependent strategies to deal with stress were discussed: FSCS group used less frequently emotion-focused coping strategies than male athletes from both MSCS and MGCS (apparently a surprising result), and with a higher frequency of dysfunctional coping strategies. No important differences were found between the four investigated groups of athletes MGCS, MSCS, FGCS and FSCS) with respect to the problem-focused coping strategies.
Conclusions: Martial arts (combat sports) athletes who have tested positive for COVID-19 reported significantly higher levels of intrapsychic stress, emotional tension and external stress, compared to athletes which reported that they have not suffered from COVID-19. Denial and behavioural disengagement (as dysfunctional coping strategies) were more frequent among athletes which reported that they were sick with COVID-19, while positive reframing was significantly less used. The research can be of interest for martial arts athletes, coaches, parents and sports psychologists seeking to promote the most effective strategies to deal with negative stress, if the pandemic will have long-term consequences for athletes’ mental health and well-being.
Key words: well-being, mental health, division of the combat sports, distress, combat sports