A MEASURE OF STRESS RESPONSE IN ATHLETES
Rushall, B. S. (1990). A tool for measuring stress tolerance in elite athletes. Applied Sport Psychology, 2, 51-66.
A tool for measuring elite athletes' responses to life-style stresses, Daily analyses of life-demands for athletes" (DALDA) was described. The evolutionary nature of its developmental process indicated that the accuracy and reliability of results are high and stable. The tool requires a self-assessment of situations and symptoms. An example of use with Olympic athletes in a game situation was provided.
It is not possible to measure training stress reactions independent of all other life-stresses. Good and bad events from outside of sport migrate into the sporting environment to modify training responses. To accommodate the concept of the totality of life-experiences affecting an athlete's performance, the following sources of stress are measured as Part A of the DALDA: diet, home-life, school/college/work, friends, sport training, climate, sleep, recreation, and health. Each of these is evaluated to as whether it is normal, worse than normal, or better than normal. An athlete's responses indicate how various parts of his/her life are perceived in terms of their stressfulness.
Part B of the tool lists 25 symptoms of stress that can be measured reliably using the self-report format. It is contended that the more symptoms that are reported the more stressed is an athlete. However, the point was made that responses to the DALDA cannot be compared between athletes. Each of the symptoms is evaluated as to whether it is normal, worse than normal, or better than normal.
A central thesis of the paper is that as life stresses increase in their severity, then so do the number of stress symptoms. For elite athletes, it is in their best interests to keep all life-stresses constant and manageable so that the only extreme stress will be that of training. If that is possible, and the responses to Part A of the DALDA will indicate that, then changes in stress symptoms will reflect the overload of and recovery from training stress.
Examples are given as to how the DALDA can be used to monitor:
Implication. The interpretations and import of the DALDA are subtle and extensive. It is contended that it is appropriate for talented athletes who are training seriously and conscientiously. Training prescriptions can be designed as a consequence of athlete's responses to this tool.
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