Emotional experiences in youth tennis


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Abstract

Objectives:To explore adolescents' emotional experiences in competitive sport. Specifically, this study sought to identify, 1) The emotions adolescents' experience at tennis tournaments, 2) The precursors of the emotions they experience, and, 3) How adolescents attempt to cope with these emotions.Design:Case-study.Method:Four adolescent tennis players competed in four or five tennis matches under the observation of a researcher. Immediately following each match, participants completed a post-match review sheet and a semi-structured interview. A further semi-structured interview was completed at the end of the tournament. Review sheets, notes from match observations, and video recordings of matches were used to stimulate discussions during final interviews. All data were analyzed following the procedures outlined by Miles and Huberman (1994).Results:Participants cited numerous positively and negatively valenced emotions during matches and tournaments. Participants' emotions seemed to be broadly influenced by their perceptions of performance and outcomes, as well as their opponent's behavior and player's perceptions of their own behavior. Participants described various strategies to cope with these emotions, such as controlling breathing rate, focusing on positive thoughts, and individualized routines. Further, if participants perceived them to be facilitative, negative emotions could be beneficial for performance.Conclusion:This study provided original insights into the complexity of adolescent athletes' emotional experiences at competitions and highlights the critical need for further in-depth examinations of youth sport to fully comprehend the experiences of young people. Most notably, the findings highlight the necessity of considering the impact of both intra- and interpersonal influences on adolescents' emotional experiences, while also accounting for temporal changes.HighlightsEmotions are a central component of youth sport.A case study of 4 adolescent tennis players examined emotional experiences at competitions.Participants experienced many positively and negatively toned emotions.Emotions were associated with match outcomes, performance, and behaviors.A variety of problem- and emotion-focused strategies were used to cope with emotions.

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