What do we know about stressors and coping among female athletes? A scoping review.


There is extensive research examining stressors and coping in sport (Nicholls & Polman, 2007), with several studies suggesting gender/sex differences in the experiences of female and male athletes (Kaiseler & Polman, 2010). However, there have been few efforts to comprehensively synthesize the literature on stressors and coping among female athletes. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to conduct a scoping review of the literature on stressors and coping among female athletes. Five databases were systematically searched (PsychInfo, Scopus, Medline, and ProQuest Theses and Dissertations), followed by hand-searching of journals; 6,808 abstracts were screened for inclusion in the review (inclusion criteria: full text empirical articles, English language, research on stress and coping with female athletes). The analysis included examination of the topics that have been studied in relation to stress and coping among female athletes, the use of various methodological approaches, and identification of key findings and gaps in the literature. Researchers have investigated stress and coping in relation to several aspects of sport psychology including injury and performance, and gender/sex differences in perceived stress, competitive anxiety, and coping. Limited research has explored the mechanisms or reasons for gender/sex differences. There were a range of quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches, although there were few intervention studies to improve stressor appraisals or coping among female athletes. Key areas for future research include examining changes in stressors or coping over time while considering changes in athletes’ menstrual cycle, and developmental differences in female athletes’ stressors and coping across the lifespan.