The prediction of thriving in elite sport: A prospective examination of the role of psychological need satisfaction, challenge appraisal, and salivary biomarkers

Daniel J. Brown, Rachel Arnold, Martyn Standage, James E. Turner, David Fletcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives
To examine (i) whether levels of, and changes in, athletes’ basic psychological need satisfaction (BPNS) and challenge appraisals predicted in-match thriving; and (ii) if salivary biomarkers could be defined that were related to thriving.
Design
Prospective study design.
Methods
Fifty-one elite male hockey players ( M age = 24.94 years, SD age = 4.73) completed questionnaires measuring their BPNS and challenge appraisals on seven consecutive days prior to a competitive match, as well as providing saliva samples immediately on waking, and then +0.5, +3, and +5.25 h on the day of the match. Saliva was assayed for catabolic (i.e., cortisol) and anabolic (i.e., dehydroepiandrosterone [DHEA]) hormones. In-match thriving was assessed retrospectively using measures of subjective performance and well-being.
Results
Latent growth curve modelling showed pre-match levels of BPNS and challenge appraisals to positively predict thriving. Although not statistically significant, small and moderate negative associations were found for thriving with cortisol concentration (+5.25 h sample) and total cortisol exposure across the morning of the match, respectively. DHEA concentration shared a small positive, yet non-significant, association with thriving.
Conclusions
Athletes’ pre-match levels of BPNS and challenge appraisal predict in-match thriving; thus, offering potential mechanisms through which both high-level performance and the experience of well-being can be facilitated. Furthermore, associations suggest that total cortisol exposure across the morning of the match, and cortisol and DHEA levels in pre-match samples may offer sport science and sports medicine practitioners potential biomarkers for thriving. Future research is required to substantiate this initial finding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-379
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Volume24
Issue number4
Early online date8 Oct 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021

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