Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

An Investigation of a Model of Personal-Situational Factors, Stress and Burnout in Track and Field Coaches

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

An Investigation of a Model of Personal-Situational Factors, Stress and Burnout in Track and Field Coaches

Article excerpt


Negative feelings, especially stress, which coaches experience within the training environment, are caused by a variety of situations such as the pressure to win, the fans, the club administration, the parents of the athletes, colleagues, the media, injuries and traveling (Caccese & Mayerberg, 1984; Hunt, 1984; Young, 1992). When the coach faces a stress situation and his mental resources are in relative balance with the causing situations, then the stress consequences are limited (Cherniss, 1980). In contrast, coaches' prolonged exposure in perceptual stress situations, in parallel with their continuous but unsuccessful attempt to face or reduce them, leads directly to burnout. The results of the burnout feelings are coaches' reduced performance and finally their resignation from the profession (Farber, 1983; Smith, 1986). Conclusively, exhaustion causes psychological and emotional withdrawal from a pleasant activity, as a reaction to extensive and prolonged stress or as a result of work dissatisfaction, which both increase with time (Smith, 1986).

H.J. Freudenberger (1974) first studied the burnout concept for the description of the physical and behavioural exhaustion symptoms in professionals employed in mental health services and generally in fields that entail close relationships or contacts between service providers and recipients (Freudenberger, 1974; Maslach & Jackson, 1981a,b; Pines & Maslach, 1978; Schwab & Iwanicki, 1981).

Studies confirm that the burnout syndrome is increasingly rising in recent years, resulting in a plethora of research by psychologists, sport psychologists and sociologists, who have identified the syndrome's significant influence on individuals, and consequently on private companies, public organizations, sports, the economy, manufacturing and so forth.

Burnout has been studied as a three-dimensional syndrome and each dimension represents different types of symptoms (Maslach, 1981a,b). Based on this approach burnout is defined as «α syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced of personal accomplishment which afflicts individuals with careers» (Maslach & Jackson, 1986b, pp. 1). The first dimension of emotional exhaustion contains feelings of physical and mental fatigue, as well as loss of energy and disposition. The second dimension with regard to depersonalization is described as removal and estrangement of the worker from his recipients/clients/athletes and as the establishment of impersonal, aggressive and cynic relations with them. The third dimension concern reduced of personal accomplishment and refers to the negative feelings of the individual who cannot perform satisfactorily at work.

The establishment of a theoretical model concerning the burnout syndrome was considered appropriate as well as a prerequisite for further development in the athletic environment and training process. Initially, the majority of the researches studying coaches' burnout behavior have focused on the examination of the variations in burnout levels, which were based on the selected demographic characteristics, such as gender, age, coaching experience, marital status, winning percentage etc. (Caccese & Mayeberg, 1984; Karabatsos, Georgiadis, & Karteroliotis, 2007; Kosa, 1990; Quigley, Slack & Smith, 1987).

Smith (1986) established a theoretical model based on (a) the fact that burnout syndrome is a reaction to prolonged stress (Cherniss, 1980), (b) the extensive study of empirical data regarding the causes and the consequences of the syndrome in the social service professionals (Freudenberger, 1974, 1975; Maslach & Jackson, 1981a,b) and (c) the social exchange model of Thibaut & Kelley (1959). Smith's model provides a useful framework to distinguish between burnout and other factors, which are the causes for resignation from sports. Examined in this model (widely known as "cognitive-affective model of stress and burnout") is the relationship between stress and burnout, where individual motives and personality differences affect parallel relations, including mutual interactions between environmental, cognitive, psychological and behavioral factors. …

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