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The relationship between thinking styles, wellbeing, and behaviours in athletes to be explored in new study

A Loughborough University study is set to explore the relationship between thinking styles, wellbeing and behaviours in the athlete population.

After a turbulent year for elite-level sport, researchers will examine how athletes have coped juggling training, competition, and daily life during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many athletes also faced disruption to their competing schedules with national and international competitions either postponed or cancelled – including the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

Athletes may have also had difficulty accessing their regular training facilities and equipment, making the maintenance and improvement of performance levels, as well as immediate sporting goals, a further challenge.

It is believed that restrictions to training and competition have resulted in isolation from training partners, teammates, coaches and fans, with many athletes experiencing the additional strain of financial difficulty as funding and contracts have been cut.

“The pandemic is yet another challenge for athletes to navigate in addition to the daily stressors of life while training and competing,” commented PhD student Ailish King, who is working on the project.

“This research seeks to gain an understanding of thinking styles, wellbeing and behaviours in athletes. It is through a comprehensive understanding that we can begin to formulate applied practice contributions for athlete wellbeing and mental health.”

For researchers to better understand the impact of the last year, athletes are invited to participate in an online survey which will take approximately 30 minutes to complete.

The study will help the research team to develop resources for athletes to help them to navigate the challenges of the pandemic, and to support their longer-term wellbeing and mental health.

Dr Jamie Barker, lead supervisor, added:

“Our research aims to explore the link between how athletes see themselves and the worlds in which they operate in, and how such thoughts can influence their wellbeing.

“For example, athletes with high and rigid expectations may experience high levels of anxiety and subsequent burnout. Once we are able to determine such links, we can then begin to develop effective ways to promote effective thinking styles and wellbeing in athletes of all levels and across the lifespan.”

The surveys can be completed here: 18-30 age bracket, 15-18 age bracket, 12-15 age bracket, with the full results of the study expected in December 2021. 

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 21/30

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2020 QS World University Rankings and University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 7th in the Guardian University League Table 2021, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 and 6th in The UK Complete University Guide 2021.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.