Exploring resiliency in young and old athletes


Sport participation has been advocated as an avenue to develop or enhance various positive developmental outcomes. One of these, resiliency, has emerged an important asset for dealing with adversity. For instance, previous research in youth sport has found resiliency to play a role in managing stressors such as burnout, anxiety and depression. Similarly, literature in older adults has explored resiliency as an important factor in managing loneliness, depression and overall health. However, unlike youth research, little is known about this construct within the context of sport for older adults. Given the scarcity of this topic, this study used the General Social Survey 2016 (cycle 30) to compare resiliency among older athletes, older non-athletes (aged 45 and above) and younger athletes (aged 15-34). Preliminary results indicated that both older (M=40.62, SD=3.67) and younger athletes (M=41.76, SD=3.87) had significantly higher resiliency than older non-athletes (M=37.81, SD=4.87). However, there was no significant difference between young and older athletes. While these results are intriguing, future work on the contribution of sport to levels of resilience among athletes over the lifespan is needed to determine whether this is a cause or effect of sport participation in older life. Additionally, comparisons to other forms of leisure activities are needed to determine if sport or any form of active leisure is related to increases in resilience. Moreover, further exploration in this area could have implications for regulating psychological stressors related to well-being in older adults.