Coping and psychological well-being of university rugby players
Laureano, Cynthia Marisa da Silva
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University rugby players often pursue academic and semi-professional sporting careers simultaneously which is demanding, stressful and highly competitive. This situation gives rise to individual needs and how they cope with these needs will have an impact on their overall well-being. The needs and coping mechanisms of the senior first and second team rugby players of the North-West University PUK Rugby Institute (NWU-PRT) were determined by means of a focus-group interview, essays and individual interviews. The focus-group interview was conducted with seven senior university rugby players and the essays were completed by 28 senior university rugby players. The individual interviews were conducted with the coach of the senior first team and the sport psychology consultant of the u/19 team. The results identified themes regarding time-management, motivation, injuries, character, coping, and goal-setting. A programme (founded on the experiential learning theory) which focuses on these themes and aimed at facilitating coping and well-being of university rugby players, was developed. The Experiential Learning Programme (ELP) consists of six sessions of one hour duration conducted over two consecutive weeks. The themes of the sessions are; Motivation, Goal-Setting, Time-Management, Coping with Injuries, Emotion-Focused Coping and Individual Zone of Optimal Functioning. A two group (experimental and control) pre-test and post-test design was used and the sample group was drawn from 41 rugby players from the u/19 A training squad of the NWU-PRI. The experimental (n=20) and control (n=21) groups both underwent pre- and post-testing, whereas the ELP was only presented to the experimental group. Post-testing took place one month after the ELP was presented. The battery of tests used to determine the effectiveness of the ELP were, the Affectometer (Kammann & Flett, 1983), Coping Self-Efficacy Scale (Chesney, Folkman & Chambers, 1996), Proactive Attitude Scale (Schwarzer, 1997), Fortitude Questionnaire (Pretorius, 1998) and Cognitive Appraisal Questionnaire (Botha & Wissing, 2005). The results obtained proved the ELP to be effective in facilitating coping and well-being in university rugby players. The experimental group's coping abilities showed great improvement in dealing with life difficulties. They are able to make better use of coping strategies lik, problem-focused coping (d=0.73), the ability to stop unpleasant emotions and thoughts (d=0.73) and to seek out social support from family and friends (d=1.07). They also showed marked improvements in the evaluation (appraisal) of good and/or bad events (d=0.63) and their ability to move towards action (proactive attitude) (d-0.73). The extent of positive emotions (d-0.75) they experienced increased, whereas the extent of negative emotions (d=-0.55) experienced decreased. It can be concluded that the experimental group's sense of well-being was enhanced. The control group showed no improvements in their coping ability or well-being. The improvements in the experimental group's results can, thus, be attributed to the effectiveness of the ELP. A limitation of this study is that these results cannot be generalised to provincial or national rugby players at all levels of competition or to other team sports. The ELP should be presented to small groups for it to be effective. This may limit the number of participants in accordance with the time presenters and participants have available and the number of presenters trained in presenting the ELP. It is recommended that the effectiveness of the ELP should be evaluated at provincial and national level and that the ELP should also be adapted to and evaluated in other team sports. It can be concluded that the ELP programme is ideal for first year university rugby players who may find the transition from high school academics and rugby, to university studies and semi-professional rugby stressful, as it may assist them in coping with personal and sport related stressors and can facilitate their sense of well-being.
- Humanities