Endurance athletes' coping function use during competitive suffering episodes

Michael Blair Evans, Sharleen D. Hoar, Robert J. Gebotys, Courtney A. Marchesin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Endurance athletes who realise that they are falling short of important personal goals during competition are expected to experience competitive suffering. As a negative affective state with implications for performance and personal experiences, it is important to understand how endurance athletes cope with competitive suffering. Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate differences in athletes' momentary coping function use over time during a competitive suffering episode. Twenty-six runners (mean age: 35.8 years) completed a 5-km running time trial that evoked an experience of competitive suffering using false failure-oriented feedback. Momentary assessments of goal attainment feelings and coping function use were completed immediately following the running time trial using video-mediated recall. Pooled time series analysis was used to predict coping function use across several points in time (i.e. earlier and later stages of a competitive suffering episode) and at different ratings of goal attainment feelings. Analyses revealed that negative feelings about goal attainment moderately predicted problem-focused coping use, and strongly predicted emotion-focused coping use. Although it was not predicted by goal attainment feelings, avoidance coping use was decreased over time throughout suffering episodes. Overall, this study supports propositions that the coping process is continually adapted to competitive demands and identifies the roles of distinct coping functions within the total coping effort.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)368-375
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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