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The applicability of self-regulation theories in sport : goal adjustment capacities, stress appraisals, coping and well-being among athletes

Nicholls, Adam R.; Levy, Andrew R.; Carson, Fraser; Thompson, Mark A.; Perry, John L.


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Professor Adam Nicholls
Professor of Psychology/ Leader of the Sport Psychology and Coaching Group

Andrew R. Levy

Fraser Carson

Mark A. Thompson

John L. Perry


Objectives: We examined a model, informed by self-regulation theories, which included goal adjustment capacities, appraisals of challenge and threat, coping, and well-being. Design: Prospective. Methods: Two hundred and twelve athletes from the United Kingdom (n = 147) or Australia (n = 65), who played team (n = 135) or individual sports (n = 77), and competed at international (n = 7), national (n = 11), county (n = 67), club (n = 84), or beginner (n = 43) levels participated in this study. Participants completed measures of goal adjustment capacities and stress appraisals two days before competing. Athletes also completed questions on coping and well-being within three hours of their competition ending. Results: The way an athlete responds to an unattainable goal is associated with his or her well-being in the period leading up to and including the competition. Goal reengagement positively predicted well-being, whereas goal disengagement negatively predicted well-being. Further, goal reengagement was positively associated with challenge appraisals, which in turn was linked to task-oriented coping, and task-oriented coping positively associated with well-being. Conclusion: When highly-valued goals become unattainable, consultants could encourage athletes to seek out alternative approaches to achieve the same goal or help them develop a completely new goal.


Nicholls, A. R., Levy, A. R., Carson, F., Thompson, M. A., & Perry, J. L. (2016). The applicability of self-regulation theories in sport : goal adjustment capacities, stress appraisals, coping and well-being among athletes. Psychology of sport and exercise, 27, 47-55.

Acceptance Date Jul 20, 2016
Online Publication Date Jul 22, 2016
Publication Date 2016-11
Deposit Date Jul 25, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jan 24, 2018
Journal Psychology of sport and exercise
Print ISSN 1469-0292
Electronic ISSN 1878-5476
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Pages 47-55
Keywords Challenge; Disengagement; Reengagement; Threat
Public URL
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Copyright Statement ©2018, Elsevier. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Additional Information Authors' accepted manuscript of article published in: Psychology of sport and exercise, 2016, v.27.


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