Toward a grounded theory of self-regulation in mixed martial arts


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Abstract

Objectives:The purpose of the current study was to use a grounded theory methodology to better understand the psychological factors involved in training and competition in MMA.Design:A grounded theory methodology underpinned by an interpretivist epistemology was utilized in the current study.Methods:Nine MMA athletes participated in formal, recorded interviews with one athlete participating in two recorded interviews. Additionally, observations and field notes from the first author were collected over a one-year period, and aided data collection and analysis. In line with grounded theory methodology (Weed, 2009), an iterative and constant comparison approach to data collection and analysis was employed until saturation was reached.Results:Throughout data collection and analysis, self-regulation during a training camp emerged as integral to optimal performance. Motivation and ongoing evaluation aided fighters in their ability to self-regulate both external and internal factors related to training and performance. External factors associated with self-regulation consisted of the creation and maintenance of an ascetic routine through environmental regulation, social support, and structured amnesty. Internal factors associated with self-regulation consisted of deliberately induced pain and distress, which facilitated self-efficacy, and produced stress and fatigue.Conclusions:Results of the current study advance the scientific literature in sport psychology by examining the role of self-regulation in the performance of MMA fighters. As the popularity of MMA continues to increase, future research should also examine the role of self-regulation in other aspects of MMA (e.g., injury rehabilitation, life balance).

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