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 journalArticle

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
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Early online date8 Oct 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Oct 2020

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