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Learning to cope among adolescent athletes Open Access


Other title
grounded theory
learning to cope
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Tamminen, Katherine A.
Supervisor and department
Holt, Nicholas (Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation)
Examining committee member and department
Kowalski, Kent (University of Saskatchewan College of Kinesiology)
Spence, John (Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation)
Dunn, John (Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation)
Given, Lisa (School of Library and Information Studies)
Berry, Tanya (Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation)
Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
The current research was designed to add to the youth sport coping literature by examining adolescent athletes’ stressor appraisals and coping and to understand the way in which athletes learn to cope. Two studies were conducted. Study one was a metastudy (Paterson, Thorne, Canam, & Jillings, 2001) of the qualitative research on stressor appraisals and coping among adolescents in sport. Following database searches, 20 studies were retained for analysis. Meta-data, meta-theory, and meta-method analyses were conducted followed by a final meta-synthesis of findings. Analyses produced four themes: contextual and dynamic stressor appraisals, contextual and dynamic coping, coping resources and processes of acquisition, and social networks as assets and liabilities. These findings highlighted the need for precise use of theory in the study of coping. There was also scope for greater methodological diversity to advance our understanding of coping among adolescent athletes. The second study examined how adolescent athletes learn to cope and the role of social agents (e.g., parents and coaches) in adolescent athletes’ acquisition of coping skills. Grounded theory methodology was used (Corbin & Strauss, 2008). Interviews were conducted with 17 athletes (8 females, 9 males, Mage = 15.6 years), 10 parents (6 mothers, 4 fathers), and 7 coaches. Learning to cope was an experiential process consisting of the athlete – sport experiences and learning through trial and error, reflective practice, and coping outcomes (consistent performance, independence in coping, and persistence in coping). Learning was facilitated by athletes being exposed to multiple situations and reflecting on their coping efforts. Parents and coaches helped athletes learn to cope by creating a supportive context for learning and by using specific strategies to help athletes learn to cope. This research highlighted the importance of the social context as adolescent athletes learned to cope with stressors in sport and identified specific mechanisms by which parents and coaches influenced the development of coping among young athletes.
License granted by Katherine Tamminen ( on 2011-03-31T18:02:24Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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