Jul 21, 2020
Study: Individual Athletes Face More Anxiety, Fatigue Than Team Sports

New research found that adolescent athletes who participate in individual endurance sports reported more psychosocial challenges such as physical function mobility difficulties, higher anxiety symptoms, and more fatigue than their team sports peers, according to a press release issued by the National Athletic Trainer’s Association (NATA).

Psychosocial Characteristics of High School Endurance Athletes Compared to Team Sport was presented as part of the 2020 NATA Virtual Clinical Symposia & AT Expo educational programming, which transitioned to a virtual event in light of COVID-19. The study abstract will be published in the Journal of Athletic Training, the scientific journal of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, later this year.

“It is more important than ever to understand the mental and physical pressure that athletes are facing as they start to return to their sport. In our research, we found that endurance athletes have elevated challenges physically and mentally compared to their team sports peers,” Olivia May, LAT, ATC, OTC, Certified Athletic Training Resident, Pediatric Sports Medicine at Children’s Hospital Colorado, said in the release. “It’s critical that student-athletes have compassionate health care professionals onsite that understand the unique challenges of their sport to reduce their risk of injury and mental health concerns.”

The study consisted of 89 student-athletes, where 33% defined their primary sport as an endurance sport (cross country, swimming) and 67% defined their primary sport as a team sport (basketball, soccer, baseball, softball). The two groups spent a similar amount of time participating in sports per week. A similar proportion of both groups reported a history of time loss orthopedic injuries such as stress fractures and concussion.

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Participants completed the athlete burnout questionnaire (ABQ), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) score, and Pediatric PROMIS 25, which included the physical function mobility, anxiety, depressive symptoms, fatigue, peer relationships, pain interference, and pain intensity domains. They compared endurance and team sport athletes on measures of demographics, medical/injury history, and psychosocial characteristics using independent samples t-tests, Mann Whitney U tests, and Fisher’s exact test.

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