EXERCISE AND QUALITY OF LIFE
Volume 7, Issue 2, December 2015
UDC 796.322-055.1:159.913
STRESS COPING RELATIVE TO COMPETITIVE EXPERIENCE OF HANDBALL
PLAYERS
Goran Žakula and Tatjana Tubić
Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, Novi Sad, Serbia
Abstract
The aim of this study is to examine differences in stress coping between handball players of
different competitive experience. The sample consists of 127 handball players from 10 clubs
in Serbia, 83 of whom are males and 44 are females. All participants are divided in three
groups, which are formed according to their competitive experience: up to 5 years (n = 42),
up to 10 years (n = 58), over 10 years (n = 26), with an assumption that there are no
significant differences between male and female handball players (p = .909). General Self-
Efficacy Scale (SGSE; Schwarzer, & Jerusalem, 1981) is applied. The findings indicate that
there are significant differences in stress coping between handball players with different
levels of competitive experience (p = .021); the longer the competitive experience, the more
efficient stress coping is. As regards the findings of previous studies and the specificity of
handball, this paper provides possible explanation of obtained results and their
implementation in everyday activities of athletes and coaches.
Keywords: stress coping, handball players, competitive experience
Introduction
Competitive experience is related to the way which athlete is coping with stress.
Moreover, there is an attitude that bigger competitive experience leads to efficacious ways of
stress coping. Self-efficacy and level of competitive state anxiety are some of the ways of
stress coping
(Feltz,
2007; Hanton, 2008), which has been explored in recent decades,
following the context of sport participation at different levels of competition. Previous
findings of self-efficacy and the level of competitive state anxiety have shown, that, there is a
inversely proportional relation between these two indicators of stress coping (Treasure,
Monson & Lox, 1996).
Relations between self-efficacy and experience of athletes were confirmed in research
done by Haney and Long (Haney & Long, 1995). There are several studies regarding self-
efficacy which found significant differences between experienced and inexperienced athletes
(Martin & Gill, 1991; Fitzsimmons, Landers, Thomas & Van Der Mars, 1991; Thomas,
1994). However, these studies suggest how big self-efficacy could be regarding
41
inexperienced athletes. There is also one study which proves no significant differences
(Shelangoski, 2013) in self-efficacy, due to competitive experience.
The level of competitive state anxiety of athletes at different levels of competition,
indicates in most studies that there are significant differences in the competitive experience of
athletes
(Neil, Mellalieu, Fletcher,
2008; Rokka, Mavridis, Bebestos & Mavridis, 2008;
Fernandes, Nunes, Vasconcelos-Raposo, Fernandes, 2015). However, a study conducted by
Gould, Petlichkoff & Weinberg (1984) indicates that there are significant differences in the
level of competitive state anxiety in female volleyball players regarding their competitive
experience.
Rokka and colleagues (Rokka, 2008) explored the domain of coping with stress in
handball players of different competitive experience, and found that there are significant
differences between handball players in the level of competitive state anxiety, where handball
players with competitive experience from 4 to 6 years had lower scores on the scale of
competitive anxiety, compared to handball players with 1-3 years of competitive experience.
Methods
Total sample consists of (n = 127) handball players, (n = 83) whom are male players and (n =
44) female handball players, from senior squads. Research included 10 clubs from Serbia (6
male clubs, and 4 female clubs). All participants are divided in three groups, which are
formed according to their competitive experience: up to 5 years (n = 42), up to 10 years
(n=58), over 10 years (n=26), with an assumption that there are no significant differences
between male and female handball players (p = .909).
A General Self-Efficacy Scale questionnaire
(SGSE) was applied
(Schwarzer,
Jerusalem, 1981; cited in Weinman, 1995). The questionnaire consists 10 items which are
related to optimistic Self-beliefs in coping with stressfull situations. Reliability of
questionnaire according to Cronbach alpha is between .76 and .90 according to several
studies (Cable & Judge, 1994; Earley & Lituchy, 1991; Gardner & Pierce, 1998; Riggs &
Knight, 1994; Schaubroeck & Merritt, 1997; Smith & Foti, 1998) (Chen, 2001).
A one time study included 10 clubs from Serbia, as follows: RK „Jugović“ Kać, Rk
Žabalj, Rk Jabuka, Žrk „Dinamo“ Pančevo, Žrk „Radnički“ Obrenovac, Rk „Radnički“
Obrenovac, Žrk „Radnički“ Kačarevo, Žrk „Proleter“ Zrenjanin, Rk „Proleter“ Zrenjanin
and Rk Voždovac Beograd.
We used IBM SPSS statistics for statistical analysis, which implied Shapiro-Wilk
normality test, and Kruskall-Wallis test and Mann-Whitney test to test differences between
groups.
Results
Regarding the fact that there are no significant differences related to gender (p=.909), nor
between participants of different level of competition (p=.500), the presentation of results is
42
based on the sample of a homogenous group, so that differences in self-efficacy beliefs were
analyzed through competitive experience only.
Table 1. Test of normality by groups according to competitive experience.
up to 5 years
up to 10 years
over 10 years
N=42
N=58
N=26
p
p
p
self-efficacy
.012
.028
.006
Legend: Shapiro-Wilk test of normality, statistical significance p≤0.05
As we noticed from the results in Table 1. there are significant deviations from
normal distribution in all three groups of participants.
Table 2 shows the values of Kruskall-Wallis test by groups in coping with stress
according to competitive experience. The figures in columns show Mean Ranks values for
each group.
Table 2. Kruskall-Wallis test between groups according to competitive experience.
up to 5
up to 10
over 10 years
Kruskal-Wallis
years
years
N=42
N=58
N=26
N=126
Mean Ranks
Mean Ranks
Mean Ranks
p
self-efficacy
51.50
66.97
75.13
.021
Legend: Kruskall-Wallis test between groups, statistical significance on p≤0.05
The results in Table 2 indicate that there are significant differences between groups in
stress coping based on their competitive experience.
Table 3 shows median values for each of three groups, based on self-efficacy scores.
Table 3. Median values in self-efficacy for each group according to competitive experience.
up to 5 years
up to 10 years
over 10 years
Median
Median
Median
self-efficacy
3.20
3.30
3.45
43
Progressive fall of median values in self-efficacy scores is noticed, starting from the
group with the most competitive experience, over 10 years, towards the group with the least
competitive experience, up to 5 years.
The exact differences between groups were analyzed using Mann-Whitney test to
analyze differences between two groups. Tables 4 and 5 present values of Mann-Whitney test
of differences between groups in stress coping based on their competitive experience.
Table 4. Mann-Whitney test in self-efficacy between two groups according to competitive
experience.
up to 5 years
over 10 years
Mann-Whitney
N=42
N=26
N=68
Mean Ranks
Mean Ranks
p
self-efficacy
51.50
75.13
.017
Legend: Mann-Whitney test between two groups, statistical significance on p≤0.05
Table 5. Mann-Whitney test in self-efficacy between two groups according to competitive
experience.
up to 5 years
up to 10 years
Mann-Whitney
N=42
N=58
N=100
Mean Ranks
Mean Ranks
p
self-efficacy
42.98
55.95
.027
Legend: Mann-Whitney test between two groups, statistical significance on p≤0.05
Tables 4 and 5 show that there are significant differences in stress coping between
handball players with competitive experience up to 5 years and up to 10 years, as well as
between the ones who compete up to 5 years and over 10 years.
Disscusion
Results of this study indicate that there are significant differences between handball players
relative to their competitive experience (p=.021). In comparison with the previous findings,
concerning self-efficacy (Martin, 1991; Fitzsimmons, 1991; Thomas, 1994), it must been
noticed that previous studies made their assumption about inexperienced athletes based on the
scores showed by experienced athletes. The term competitive experience in the analyzed
research by Shelagonski (2014) where groups were compared relative to their competitive
experience in terms of hours practicing during and out of training sessions. However, in our
study, competitive experience means the competitive experience acquired in competition
only.
44
Studies about the level of competitive state anxiety which found significant
differences in levels of competitive state anxiety based on the competitive experience of
athletes (Mellalieu, 2004; Neil, 2008; Rokka, 2008; Fernandes, 2015) included differently
split of groups by competitive experience, regarding the median position (Mellalieu, 2004;
Neil, 2008; Fernandes, 2015), as well as by groups from 1 to 3 years and from 4 to 6 years
(Rokka, 2008). However, in our study the total sample is siplit in three instead of two groups
by their competitive experience. Results of previous findings relative to competitive state
anxiety and results of our study, showed that there is a clear difference between experienced
and inexperienced athletes. Data from Table
5 showed that there are no significant
differences between groups with competitive experience up to 10 years and over 10 years,
which means that there is a clear limit between the two groups based on their competitive
experience, up to 5 years group and over 5 years group. Results which were found in Rokka’s
studdy (2008), according to distribution of groups, indicate that after 4 years of competition,
a handball player develops efficious ways of stress coping, in terms of the competitive state
anxiety. Hence, Gould’s (1984) study indicates that no significant differences were shown in
the level of competitive state anxiety based on competitive experience of female volleyball
players, even though we must notice that Gould defined experience as years of training
volleyball.
At the end, we must point out that the limit of this study is the fact that some of the
factors like personality traits or emotional status or interpersonal relations in the squad were
not controlled to help in exploring the effect of competitive experience on self-efficacy,
which could help explore the differences in stress coping of handball players. However, these
results drew attention to the field of research in sport science dealing with psychological
aspects of training in competitive sport.
References
Chen, G., Guly, S., Eden, D. (2001) Validation of New General Self - Efficacy Scale.
Organizational Research Methods, 4, 62.
Feltz, D. L.
(2007). Efficacy belief in sport: research on athletes, teams, and coaches.
Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 78, A2-3.
Fernandes, M.G., Nunes, N. A. S., Vasconcelos-Raposo, J., Fernandes, M. H. (2015) Factors
influencing competitive anxiety in Brazilian athletes. Revista Brasileira de
Cineantropometria Desmpenho Humano, 1,706-714.
Fitzsimmons, P.A., Landers, M.D., Thomas, R.J. & Van der Mars H. (1991) Does Self-
Efficacy Predict Performance in Experienced Weightlifters? Research
Quarterly for Excercise and Sport, 62, 424-431.
Gould, D., Petlichkoff, L., Weinberg, R. (1984) Antecedents Of, Temporal Changes In, And
Relationships Between CSAI-2 Subcomponents. Journal of Sport Psychology,
6, 289-304.
45
Haney, C. J., & Long, B. C. (1995). Coping effectiveness: A path analysis of selfefficacy,
control, coping, and performance in sport competitions. Journal of Applied
Social, Psychology, 25, 1726-1746.
Martin, J.J., Gill, L.D. (1991) The Relationships Among Competitive Orientation, Sport-
Confidence, Self-Efficacy, Anxiety, and Performance. Journal of Sport &
Excercise Psychology, 13, 149-159.
Hanton, S., Neil, R., Mellalieu, S., Fletcher, D.
(2008) Competitive experience and
performance status: An investigation into multidimensional anxiety and
coping. European Journal of Sport Science, 8(3), 143-152.
Rokka, S., Mavridis, E., Bebestos, K., Mavridis, K (2008) Competitive State Anxiety among
Junior Handball Players. Scanidanivan Journal of Medicine and Science in
Sport, 42, 148-153.
Shelangoski, B.L.
(2014) Self-Efficacy in intercollegiate athletics, Journal of Issues in
Intercollegiate Athletics,7, 17-42.
Thomas, G. R. (1994) Self-Confidence and Baseball Performance: A Casual Examanation of
Self-Efficacy Theory. Journal of Sport and Excerise Psychology,
1994,
16,381-399.
Treasure, D.C., Monson, J., Lox, C. (1996) Relationship between Self-Efficacy, Wrestling
performance, and Affect Prior to Competition. Journal of Human
Kinetics,10,73-83.
Weinman, J., Wright, S., & Johnston, M. (1995) Measures in health psychology: A user’s
portfolio. Causal and control beliefs. Windsor, UK: NFER-NELSON.
46