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The development of a new sport-specific classification of coping and a meta-analysis of the relationship between different coping strategies and moderators on sporting outcomes

Nicholls, Adam R.; Carroll, Sean; Taylor, Natalie J.; Perry, John L.


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

Natalie J. Taylor

John L. Perry


There is an ever growing coping and sports performance literature, with researchers using many different methods to assess performance and different classifications of coping. As such, it makes it difficult to compare studies and therefore identify how coping is related to performance. Furthermore, there are no quantitative syntheses of the results from these studies. A quantitative synthesis would facilitate a more comprehensive understanding of how coping is associated with athletic performance. In order to accurately compare studies, our first aim was to develop a new coping classification that would make this possible. Firstly, we reviewed the strengths and limitations of the different coping classifications and then identified the commonalities and differences between such classifications. We opted for a three-factor classification of coping, because the evidence suggests that a three-factor classification provides a superior model fit to two-factor approaches. Our new classification of coping was based on an existing model from the developmental literature, which received an excellent model fit. We made some adaptations, however, as our classification was intended for an athletic population. As such, we classified coping as mastery (i.e., controlling the situation and eliminating the stressor), internal regulation (i.e., managing internal stress responses), or goal withdrawal (i.e., ceasing efforts towards goal attainment). Undertaking a meta-analysis, our second aim was to identify which coping strategies correlated with sports performance and whether this relationship varied according to moderator variables. Articles were sourced from online electronic databases and manual journal searches. PRISMA guidelines were used to search, select, and synthesize relevant studies. Random effects meta-analyses were performed to identify associations between coping classification and sport performance. Q, I2, and R2 values assessed heterogeneity. Eighteen published investigations, including 3900 participants and incorporating fifty-nine correlations, indicated an overall positive effect for mastery coping, a negligible negative effect for internal regulation coping, and a negative effect for goal withdrawal strategies. The findings of this meta-analysis could be used by sports practitioners to help them deliver effective coping interventions. In order to maximize performance, practitioners could encourage the use of mastery coping, but advise their athletes not to use goal withdrawal strategies.


Nicholls, A. R., Carroll, S., Taylor, N. J., & Perry, J. L. (2016). The development of a new sport-specific classification of coping and a meta-analysis of the relationship between different coping strategies and moderators on sporting outcomes. Frontiers in psychology Frontiers Research Foundation, 7(NOV), 1674-1-1674-14.

Acceptance Date Oct 12, 2016
Online Publication Date Nov 3, 2016
Publication Date Nov 3, 2016
Deposit Date Oct 18, 2016
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Frontiers in psychology
Print ISSN 1664-1078
Electronic ISSN 1664-1078
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Issue NOV
Article Number ARTN 1674
Pages 1674-1-1674-14
Keywords Age; Gender; Goal attainment; Objective performance; Subjective performance
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is a copy of an open access article: Nicholls AR, Taylor NJ, Carroll S and Perry JL(2016) The Development of a New Sport-Specific Classification of Coping and a Meta-Analysis of the Relationship between Different Coping Strategies and Moderators on Sporting Outcomes. Front. Psychol. 7:1674. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01674


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Copyright Statement
© 2016 Nicholls, Taylor, Carroll and Perry. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution and reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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