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Social support and coping with interpersonal sport stress during early adolescence Hoar, Sharleen Denise

Abstract

This dissertation investigated early adolescent athletes' social resources and coping responses during sport-specific stressful events. Guided by Lazarus' (1991a, 1999) Cognitive-Motivational-Relational theoretical model of stress and emotion, a multi-step approach was utilized to examine theoretical and descriptive questions about early adolescents coping and social support. Specifically, 575 adolescent team sport athletes (n = 290 male, n = 285 female) between the ages of 11 and 15 years identified the individuals who provide supportive resources to the athlete (i.e., social support network), the types of social supportive resources obtained in sport (i.e., received social support), perceptions of social support (i.e., perceived social support), as well as the coping strategies and coping function(s) used to manage interpersonal difficulties in sport. The findings extend empirical research within the youth sport literature. An important finding concerns the relatively few coping strategies that athletes reported (M 2.42, SD = 1.40) when asked to recall the management of a stressful interpersonal event with a semi open-ended questionnaire. Confirmatory factor analyses revealed an acceptable fit for the multidimensional structure of social support for both males (TLI = .947, CFI = .961) and females (TLI = .949, CFI = .962). Descriptively, findings demonstrated that early adolescent athletes social support network size, received social support, and perceived social support was similar to that reported in the social support literature. MANOVA analyses revealed a main effect in favour of girls, for all three social support dimensions. Structurally, support for a direct effect model between social support dimensions and coping was demonstrated. No support was found for the mediation of perceived social support between the relations of the other social support dimensions and coping. The structural relation, however, was moderated by gender. Received social support was related to boys coping, while perceived social support and social support network size significantly related to girls coping. The findings are discussed with respect to the implications for the conceptual understanding and measurement of early adolescent coping and social support in sport.

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