Women Athletes’ Self-Compassion, Self-Criticism, and Perceived Sport Performance

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Abstract

Many difficult and painful sport experiences for young women athletes are at least partially due to their harsh self-criticism and negative performance evaluations. One potential resource for young women athletes to manage these experiences is self-compassion, a healthy self-attitude premised on being kind and understanding toward oneself during times of pain and failure. The purpose of this study was to explore if self-compassion was related to sport performance and if self-compassion accounts unique variance beyond self-criticism in women athletes’ perceived sport performance. Women athletes (N = 82, Mage = 18.77 years) from a variety of sports and competition levels completed measures of perceived sport performance, self-compassion, and self-criticism in sport around a scheduled competition. Self-compassion was negatively correlated with self-criticism, r = −.61, p < .001 and positively correlated with perceived sport performance, r = .29, p < .01. Further, self-criticism was not related to women athletes’ perceived sport performance. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that self-compassion contributed 5.4% unique variance beyond self-criticism in women athletes’ perceived sport performance. The results of this research suggest that extending compassion toward the self may be important for women athletes’ sport performance, whereas self-criticism does not play a role in perceived sport performance.

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