Psychological effects of lay-off from training on competitive swimmers
Henderson, Linda A.
Master of Science
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The purpose of this study was to examine the psychological effects of lay-off from training on competitive swimmers. The subjects were 20 swimmers (M = 8, F =12) competing at either a national or provincial level. Subjects were given the Speilberger, Gorsuch and Lushene Self- Evaluation Questionnaire and a Likert Mood Scale Self-Evaluation Questionnaire on four occasions: during training (pre-test), two days into lay-off, five days into lay-off and again during training (post-test). A ten-item scale that measured self-reports of commitment and addiction to swimming using a nine-point Likert-type scale was also administered on days two and five of lay-off. An Activity Assessment Questionnaire was used to determine what activities, if any, the subjects participated in during their lay-off. This was administered on day five of their lay-off. No significance was found using ANOVA (p < 0.05) between the pre- and post-tests and lay-off days two and five, for either the mood scale or state anxiety self-evaluation questionnaire. Of the 20 subjects tested, five subjects exercised during the course of the testing period, and one subject became injured. Therefore, analysis was completed for both N = 14 and N = 20. The means for both mood and state anxiety for day two indicated an addiction pattern, while the means for both mood and state anxiety for day five indicated a relief pattern. Subjects were categorized into one of two groups on the basis of the pattern of their state anxiety and mood scores. These patterns were addiction, (low mood, high anxiety) and relief (high mood, low anxiety). T-tests revealed a significant difference between the relief and addiction groups (N = 14) for the level the subjects competed at (relief x = 1.6, addiction x = 1.1), and for the number of days per week the subjects trained (relief x = 5.4, addiction x = 6.0). Data compiled from day five showed a significant difference between the addiction and relief groups for the subjects' preference to taking a day off from training, and from training, and from the subjects' perceived addiction scores. All subjects in the relief group indicated that they felt that they needed a day off from swimming to rest. Half of the subjects in the addiction group indicated the same. The addiction group (x = 6.8) perceived themselves more addicted to swimming than the relief group (x = 8.6). Subjects who experienced addiction during lay-off tended to compete at higher levels (national) and did not wish to take a day-off from training. Those who competed at lower levels (provincial) experienced relief during lay-off perhaps due to the coach controlled training schedule where time-off was viewed as a welcome relief. Further research in this area should involve a larger sample size across a variety of sports involving elite athletes.