Gratitude brings female athletes closer to mental and physical goals

Practicing a sport like football can come with a lot of pressure and performance stress especially for the youths that need to compete for their spot in a team. What if we could lower the levels of player stress so that their personal and social well-being will increase?

That is what the study of Gabana et al (2020) investigated. A high school girls’ football team was assigned to a gratitude intervention with or without the coach being present. They examined the impact of a gratitude intervention on the girls that should allow them to reframe negative situations, enhance personal relationships and build resilience. The intervention was a multi-session gratitude intervention combined with sport-specific prompts to make the content relevant the girls’ sport experience. The gratitude exercises where for example pointed towards their teammates, they had to celebrate their gains more, and they had do develop a plan to continue practicing gratitude after the program.

For the entire girls group there were lasting effects on mental health, resilience and coach-athlete relationship up to 3months of follow up. The girls in the coach group showed even more positive effects on mental health. All athletes benefited from the program regardless of the group they were assigned.

Youth development in sports relies on family, sport and school environment influences to promote positive practices that allow youth athletes to flourish on and off the field. Therefore, gratitude promotion might be something to consider to implement in high school programs and to teach parents and coaches.  

Nicole T. Gabana, Y. Joel Wong, Aaron D’Addario & Graig M. Chow (2020) The Athlete Gratitude Group (TAGG): Effects of coach participation in a positive psychology intervention with youth athletes, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/10413200.2020.1809551

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