I/O Psychology and Sports: The Do’s and Don’ts of Handling Stress.

Topic: Selection, Human Resources, Sports Psychology
Publication: The Sport Psychologist (2006)
Article: Stressors, Coping, and Coping Effectiveness Among Professional Rugby Union Players.
Authors: Nicholls, Adam R.; Holt, Nicholas L.; Polman, Remco C. J.; Bloomfield, Jonny
Reviewed By: Scott Charles Sitrin

10, 9, 8, 7; the clock ticks down in the final game and you are passed the ball. Make it, and your team is the champion. Miss it, and you have an off-season filled with regret and disappointment. From the field to the boardroom, stress exists. How do you handle it?

Adam Nicholls, Nicholas Holt, Remco Polman, and Jonny Bloomfield collaborated to investigate the coping strategies used by professional rugby players. Broadly speaking, there are two types of coping strategies, problem-focused and emotion-focused. A problem-focused coping strategy focuses on practical solutions to the stress-inducing situation. An emotion-focused coping strategy focuses on ameliorating the emotions (e.g., frustration, sadness) caused by the stress- inducing situation. In a 28-day diary, eight elite rugby players recorded their stressors, coping responses, and the efficacy of their coping strategies. It was found that the most frequently cited stressors were injury concerns, mental mistakes, and physical mistakes while the most effective coping strategies were problem-focused (e.g., focusing on the task, increasing effort).

Like the rugby players, do you also use problem-focused coping strategies before the big
meeting? Or do you kiss your lucky penny, cross your fingers, spin in circles three times, and hope for the best? It’s up to you. But considering that professional athletes focus on the task and increase effort when the heat is on, maybe you should too.

Nicholls, A.R., Holt, N.L., Polman, R.C.J., & Bloomfield, J. (2006). Stressors, coping, and
coping effectiveness among professional rugby union players. The Sport Psychologist, 20, 314-329.

human resource management,organizational industrial psychology, organizational management