Research Topic

Adaptation to Psychological Stress in Sport

About this Research Topic

Psychological stress is ubiquitous in sport, as it is in life. Psychological stress is a risk factor for a broad range of mental and physical pathologies, and in sport has an important and clear impact on performance. In the emerging research, it is apparent that stress is not simply a unitary construct from high stress to low stress, rather, stress is multifaceted and complex. Stress can be both a help and a hindrance to wellbeing and performance, depending on how we view stress and how we adapt in stressful situations. For example, growing literature suggests that exposure to stressful and adverse situations may augment stress adaptation, and that reappraising unhelpful stress as helpful stress, may limit the deleterious effects of stress. Further, cognitive-behavioural approaches that are prevalent within applied sport psychology emphasizes cognitive appraisal and evaluation in adaptation to stressful situations.

This notion of cognitive mediation is at the center of various contemporary theories that attempt to explain how stress can affect the wellbeing and performance of those involved in sport. For instance, in rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) it is one’s beliefs about stressful and adverse situations that determines emotional and behavioural responding. Individuals with extreme, rigid, and illogical beliefs are more likely to react to stressors with unhealthy emotions and maladaptive and behaviours. Furthermore, in theories of challenge and threat as applied to sport, cognitive appraisal determines whether individuals react adaptively (challenge) or maladaptively (threat) to motivated performance situations. Importantly, stress adaptation involves a constellation of biopsychosocial determinants and consequences that afford explorative and intervention opportunities for researchers and practitioners working within sport.

The present Research Topic of Movement Science and Sport Psychology brings together the work of researchers and practitioners whose endeavor is to understand adaptation to psychological stress in sport. We will gladly receive research articles (experimental, cross-sectional, applied, qualitative), explanatory practitioner case-studies (with or without data), review articles (systematic, or narrative), conceptual pieces, commentaries, and debates. Our aim is to capture the breadth and depth of work taking place around the theme of adaptation to psychological stress in sport and submissions can include as their subject focus key stakeholders within sport such as athletes of any age or status (e.g., from grassroots to retried), coaches and managers, support staff, parents and family, officials, and the media. Particularly welcome are articles that include psychophysiological data, mental health data, applied works using single-case research designs, or life course or longitudinal perspectives, all of which aligned to the theme of stress adaptation.


Keywords: Stress, Coping, Psychophysiology, CBT, Emotion


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Psychological stress is ubiquitous in sport, as it is in life. Psychological stress is a risk factor for a broad range of mental and physical pathologies, and in sport has an important and clear impact on performance. In the emerging research, it is apparent that stress is not simply a unitary construct from high stress to low stress, rather, stress is multifaceted and complex. Stress can be both a help and a hindrance to wellbeing and performance, depending on how we view stress and how we adapt in stressful situations. For example, growing literature suggests that exposure to stressful and adverse situations may augment stress adaptation, and that reappraising unhelpful stress as helpful stress, may limit the deleterious effects of stress. Further, cognitive-behavioural approaches that are prevalent within applied sport psychology emphasizes cognitive appraisal and evaluation in adaptation to stressful situations.

This notion of cognitive mediation is at the center of various contemporary theories that attempt to explain how stress can affect the wellbeing and performance of those involved in sport. For instance, in rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) it is one’s beliefs about stressful and adverse situations that determines emotional and behavioural responding. Individuals with extreme, rigid, and illogical beliefs are more likely to react to stressors with unhealthy emotions and maladaptive and behaviours. Furthermore, in theories of challenge and threat as applied to sport, cognitive appraisal determines whether individuals react adaptively (challenge) or maladaptively (threat) to motivated performance situations. Importantly, stress adaptation involves a constellation of biopsychosocial determinants and consequences that afford explorative and intervention opportunities for researchers and practitioners working within sport.

The present Research Topic of Movement Science and Sport Psychology brings together the work of researchers and practitioners whose endeavor is to understand adaptation to psychological stress in sport. We will gladly receive research articles (experimental, cross-sectional, applied, qualitative), explanatory practitioner case-studies (with or without data), review articles (systematic, or narrative), conceptual pieces, commentaries, and debates. Our aim is to capture the breadth and depth of work taking place around the theme of adaptation to psychological stress in sport and submissions can include as their subject focus key stakeholders within sport such as athletes of any age or status (e.g., from grassroots to retried), coaches and managers, support staff, parents and family, officials, and the media. Particularly welcome are articles that include psychophysiological data, mental health data, applied works using single-case research designs, or life course or longitudinal perspectives, all of which aligned to the theme of stress adaptation.


Keywords: Stress, Coping, Psychophysiology, CBT, Emotion


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

28 February 2019 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

28 February 2019 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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