New Scale Developed to Measure Student-Athlete Stress

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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  • brody


    November 19th, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    I have been a student athlete and have worked pretty closely with them too. There is so much stress placed upon these students that it’s a wonder that so many of them remain the success that they start out as. It is so hard to juggle the expectations and the work load that comes with having this kind of role in school. Not only are the trying to please themselves with their performmance, they also have to worry about parents, teachers, the student body and often the entire community. If you want to see real success then we have to find a way to bring down some of the stress levels that so many of the kids are having to deal with on a daily basis. It’s not right for them to feel like they have to carry such a load.

  • doanld


    November 19th, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    although never been a student athlete myself,I always had respect for those that are because college can by itself be so tough and to manage all of that together juggling between all of that has got to be quite an effort.

    And with that comes added anxiety and possible depression. Hence these students need more looking out for I agree.

  • NESS


    November 20th, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    Young adults often need guidance and someone they can talk to, maybe a counselor at school or college. There is academic responsibility, the thrill of being independent, social and love life and just so many other things.

    Athletes also require the same to help them further their mental toughness and to stay at the top mentally. Now combine the two and we can quickly see just how important it is for student athletes to take care of themselves by having an outlet where they can get help and support.

    It is not a luxury but more of a necessity that not many people may pay attention to but is something that is needed by all equally.Ive seen great school athletes lose it all and end up nowhere just because hey had no guiding force behind them.It can be the difference between a successful life filled with continued sports excellence and one where the person is sitting without any college education looking back at glory days where he represented his high school.

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