Journeying through sport: Athlete narratives of navigating pressure and struggle


In high-level sport, there is often an overemphasis or fixation on performance which can lead to the decline of important aspects such as athletes' physical health, mental well-being, and quality of life (Smith, 2010; Smith & Sparkes, 2009a). Sport psychology researchers and practitioners have sought to mitigate such threats to well-being by placing an emphasis on helping athletes develop adaptive coping resources and approaches, such as self-compassion (Ferguson et al., 2015; Mosewich et al., 2014; Frentz et al., 2019). To further understand athlete development and support, the purpose of this study was to explore how athletes high in self-compassion story their journey through sport as well as their experiences of navigating pressure and struggle. Three women athletes were recruited based on their high (> 1SD above the mean; Ingstrup et al., 2017) self-compassion scores (i.e., SCS-SF athlete version; Lizmore et al., 2017). Athletes were invited to take part in two loosely structured one-on-one interviews as part of a narrative approach to learn about their sport careers, stories, and experiences (Riessman, 2008). Both narrative thematic and structural analyses are currently in progress in an effort to capture the rich description of athlete experiences as well as the overarching structure of their narrative accounts. This abstract will be updated between Sept. 15 and October 1, 2021 to share key findings and implications.

Acknowledgments: This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship, as well as the University of Alberta's Walter H Johns Graduate Fellowship and Alberta Graduate Excellence Scholarship.