Parents, coaches, and peers have very high expectations of student athletes. These developing young adults are expected to excel academically, physically, and socially, all while navigating the emotional and personal path of their journey from childhood to adulthood. Add to these demands the pressures of family life, interpersonal relationships, and other stressors and the burdens can be overwhelming. For college student athletes, the introduction of independence and the campus experience can serve to exacerbate stress. Because these students are unique, it is essential to have a valid and effective tool to gauge their unique stress.
Frank Lu of the Graduate Institute of Physical Education at the National Taiwan Sport University sought to design a scale that would identify the individual classifications of stressors faced by student athletes. In a series of studies involving college student athletes, Lu gathered information pertaining to various areas of life that caused stress and came up with a 24-item scale called the College Student Athletes’ Life Stress Scale (CSALSS). The scale consists of eight factors, including burnout and positive outlook, and was tested on the student sample for validity. Among the eight factors are four designed to address daily stressors related to academic life and relationship challenges. The remaining four factors focused primarily on athletic-induced stress.
One of the factors that Lu looked very closely at was burnout. This is an important element in the stress-mental health relationship because burnout—physical, emotional, or otherwise—can lead to poor health. This type of dynamic can impact all areas of a student’s life, relational and personal. Lu hopes coaches, school staff members, and others who work closely with student athletes make themselves aware of the many dimensions of stress that these young adults can experience. Understanding the causes of the stress can help counselors and mentors recommend appropriate treatment. Lu points out that the findings presented here have some limitations. First, the highly competitive status of the athletes in the study may have restricted the exploration of factors that could impact students of different performance levels. Also, there was little difference, socially, culturally, and sexually, among the participants. “Finally, future research that focuses on diverse groups of student athletes who may confront more speciﬁc challenges is warranted,” Lu said.
Jing-Horng Lu, Frank, Ya-Wen Hsu, Yuan-Shuo Chan, Jang-Rong Cheen, and Kuei-Tsu Kao. Assessing college student athletes’ life stress: Initial measurement development and validation. Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science 16.4 (2012): 254-67. Print.
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