Degree Name

Master of Arts (Hons.)


Department of Psychology


The general purpose of this thesis was to examine the coping process following stressful events in competitive sport as a function of age and sex. An additional aim was to test the effectiveness of a stress management program for female adolescent team sport athletes. The thesis was comprised of two studies. In Study 1 the sources of intense stress in sport and typical coping responses to stressors of 37 male adult, 28 female adult, 39 male adolescent, and 35 female adolescent athletes (19-45 yrs, M = 26.65 yrs) was investigated. This study also attempted to ascertain the extent to which two dispositions, perfectionism (Multidimensional Perfectionism Scaled and selfconfidence (Trait Sport Confidence Inventory) predicted subjects' age and gender group membership. Results indicated significant differences between ages (p<0.01) and gender (^<0.02) for sources of corrpetitive stress. In particular, males and adults experienced the highest intensity of stress after personal performance stressors, such as errors and losing, whilst females were more intensely stressed by social evaluation. The overall adolescent group was significantly affected by the actions of others (e.g., coach and parents hassling or criticising). Significant age and gender differences in the coping strategies used to manage stress were also found. These responses were dependent on the type of stressor encountered. In terms of personal dispositions, females had significantly lower trait self-confidence than males (p<0.0001), however, no measurable sex difference existed for overall perfectionism. Finally, there was a significant age difference in perfectionism (p<0.009) but not for trait self-confidence. In Study 2, the effectiveness of a stress management program in reducing the intensity of acute stress experienced by adolescent female athletes and improving their coping skills was examined. Subjects were assigned to one of three groups. One group received a four-session stress management program based on the highest intensity