The behavioural determinants of weight-making in weight-category sports: A narrative review

Ciara Losty, Shane Noonan-Holohan, Sarah Jane Cullen, Arthur Dunne, Giles Warrington, Paula Fitzpatrick, Jennifer Pugh, Adrian McGoldrick

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Weight-category athletes (e.g. boxers, wrestlers, jockeys etc.) who engage in weight-making practices to compete are at risk of encountering negative physiological and psychological consequences. There is evidence to support safer weight-making strategies for these athletes; however, there appears to be poor adherence to these evidence-based methods. The aim of this review article is to identify the behavioural determinants which lead to athletes’ engagement and adherence in various weight-making practices amongst weight-category sports. A narrative review was conducted with articles screened for inclusion until February 2023. Twenty-three articles met the criteria for inclusion within this review. This review highlights the broad socio-cultural influences on athletes being introduced to weight-making from a young age and the continued engagement with these practices due to their wide cultural acceptance. Psychological factors such as perceived competence and confidence influence positive beliefs related to weight-making practices, further engraining them within the cultural sphere of weight-category sports. Recommendations related to future research and for practitioners within these sports are proposed throughout the article. Recommendations relate to such areas as further identification of barriers and facilitators to safer weight-making with weight-category athletes, education on the impact of weight-making for athlete support personnel, and psychological skills training to overcome periods of self-regulatory fatigue.
Original languageEnglish (Ireland)
Article number100273
JournalPerformance Enhancement and Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2024


  • Behaviour
  • Culture
  • Influences
  • Weight-category
  • Weight-making


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