An Investigation of the Psychological Status of Amateur Athletes Before and After a Triathlon Competition

Ciara Losty, Claire McDonald, Roisin MacCarthy

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Triathlon is a multisport, endurance event which places significant psychological demands on athletes. To date, few studies have compared psychological states of triathletes before and after competition. Furthermore, there is a lack of research assessing psychological indicators of overtraining in triathletes. This study aimed to create a psychological profile of amateur athletes before and after a triathlon competition, and to investigate psychological symptoms of overtraining syndrome. Forty amateur triathletes were recruited to participate in this study. Participants completed the Profile of Mood States (POMS), Passion Scale (PS), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and General Self-Efficacy Scale (GES). Questionnaires were administered the day before a triathlon event, and then repeated the day after the competition. Athletes reported poor sleep quality, and mood states followed the iceberg profile (i.e., high vigor, and low anxiety, depression, anger, fatigue, tension, and confusion). Significantly higher pre-competition scores emerged for tension (pre: 8.85±5.4, post: 4.18±5.0, p < 0 .001) and anger (pre: 3.57±3.8, post: 2.80±4.1, p = 0 .021). Correlational analyses performed using Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient revealed that pre-competition sleepquality (r = -0.37, p = 0.019) and tension (r = -0.34, p = 0.031) were related to self-efficacy, and that tension (r = 0.47, p = 0.002), and fatigue (r = 0.57, p < 0.001) were related to pre-competition sleep quality. Lower scores for pre-competition vigor (r = -0.40, p = 0.010) were associated with poorer sleep quality. The study highlights significant relationships with sleep quality, and potential indicators of overtraining syndrome in amateur triathletes. Experimental research analyzing the effects of interventions to target the highlighted psychological characteristics in amateur triathletes is recommended. Coaches and practitioners should monitor athletes’ sleep quality before competition to optimize performance and prevent overtraining syndrome.
Original languageEnglish (Ireland)
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2023


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