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Defense Profiles in Adaptation Process to Sport Competition and Their Relationships with Coping, Stress and Control
Frontiers in Psychology
The purpose of this study was to identify the potentially distinct defense profiles of athletes in order to provide insight into the complex associations that can exist between defenses and other important variables tied to performance in sports (e.g., coping, perceived stress and control) and to further our understanding of the complexity of the adaptation process in sports. Two hundred and ninety-six (N = 296) athletes participated in a naturalistic study that involved a highly stressful situation: a sports competition. Participants were assessed before and after the competition. Hierarchical cluster analysis and a series of MANOVAs with post hoc comparisons indicated two stable defense profiles (high and low defense profiles) of athletes both before and during sport competition. These profiles differed with regards to coping, stress and control. Athletes with high defense profiles reported higher levels of coping strategies, perceived stress and control than athletes with low defense profiles. This study confirmed that defenses are involved in the psychological adaptation process and that research and intervention should not be based only on coping, but rather must include defense mechanisms in order to improve our understanding of psychological adaptation in competitive sports.
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