All you need to know about stress in sport

Henrik Gustafsson
Karlstad University and Norwegian School of Sport Sciences

Rachel Arnold & David Fletcher (eds.)
Stress, Well-Being, and Performance in Sport
354 pages, hardcover
Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge 2021 (Routledge Psychology of Sport, Exercise and Physical Activity)
ISBN 978-0-367-27267-8

As an undergraduate student and coach in cross-country skiing, I came across Stress and Performance in Sport by Jones and Hardy (1990). Jones and Hardy’s book was a seminal publication in the area and a great inspiration for a young student/coach. Rachel Arnold (Bath University) and David Fletcher (Loughborough University) have now gathered an impressive lineup of researchers in this updated publication. Stress, Well-Being, and Performance in Sport delivers a broad and state of the art summary of stress in sport. In addition, to stimulate new research it also provides implications for coaches and athletes in how to improve performance and facilitate well-being.

The book is divided into four sections: “Appraising and Coping with Stress in Sport”, “Responses to and Outcomes of Stress in Sport”, “Moderators of the Stress Process in Sport”, and “Stress Management to Promote Thriving in Sport”. This outline follows the transactional stress process and provides a logic framework for the book (see Lazarus & Folkman, 1987, for an original reading on the transactional model of stress). Each chapter in these sections offers the reader an overview and an update on current research and discusses conceptual issues as well as practical implications. For example, in the first section, “Appraising and Coping with Stress in Sport”, the reader will find three chapters, the first of which covers stressors, hassles, and adversity. In the second chapter a key aspect of transactions in stress is described, namely appraisals. Finally, in the third chapter the reader gets valuable insights into coping and its role in performance and well-being. This exemplifies how the different sections and chapters are connected and linked very nicely, giving the reader a route into the subject of stress in sport.

Stress in sport is a broad topic, but Arnold and Fletcher still have managed to give a more or less comprehensive summary of this area. The readership is potentially broad with the current outline, but I am leaning towards the more academic reader. This is due to the extensive reference lists for each chapter, a real treat for someone familiar with reading scientific texts, but likely overwhelming for a coach without a university education. That said, the practical implications for the practitioner will definitely trigger the interest of coaches and others involved in sports such as physiotherapists, sport psychologists and physicians. I have only praise for this edition and I have enjoyed reading it. If you need an introduction or have specific interests in how stress is related to well-being or performance, this is the book for you. I am sure that the younger version of me (the coach) would have loved this book and would have put it into the backpack when going to the next training camp.

Copyright © Henrik Gustafsson 2022


Jones, J., & Hardy, L. E. (Eds.). (1990). Stress and Performance in Sport. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.
Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, Appraisal, and Coping. New York: Springer Publishing Company.


Table of Content

SECTION I Appraising and Coping With Stress in Sport

      1. Stressors, Hassles, and Adversity
        Rachel Arnold & David Fletcher
      2. Cognitive Appraisals
        Faye F. Didymus & Marc V. Jones
      3. Coping
        Katherine A. Tamminen

SECTION II Responses to and Outcomes of Stress in Sport

      1. Emotions
        Christopher R. D. Wagstaff & Katherine A. Tamminen
      2. Attention and Visuomotor Performance Under Pressure
        Lee J. Moore, Samuel J. Vine, & Mark R. Wilson
      3. Well-Being and Quality of Life
        Carolina Lundqvist
      4. Burnout
        J. D. Defreese & Robert C. Eklund
      5. Mental Health
        Simon Rice, Courtney C. Walton, Kate Gwyther, & Rosemary Purcell

SECTION III Moderators of the Stress Process in Sport

      1. Stress-Related Growth and Resilience
        David Fletcher
      2. Personality
        Sylvain Laborde, Sinikka Heisler, & Emma Mosley
      3. Social Support
        Paul Freeman

SECTION IV Stress Management to Promote Thriving in Sport 259

      1. Stress and Pressure Training
        David Fletcher & Rachel Arnold
      2. Thriving
        Daniel J. Brown, Michael Passaportis, & Kate Hays
      3. Duties of Care and Welfare Practices
        Emma Kavanagh, Daniel Rhind, & Genevieve Gordon-Thomson
      4. Conclusion
        Rachel Arnold And David Fletcher
      5. Epilogue
        Cary L. Cooper


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