Accepting or avoiding fear: A study of how elite freestyle snowboarders experience and cope with snowboard-related fear from an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy perspective
Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Elite freestyle snowboarders often expose themselves to large risks while performing their sport. A natural response to risk is fear, and it is the aim of this study to explore how elite freestyle snowboarders experience and cope with emotions of fear in conjunction with performing their sport. When examining these mechanisms, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) will be used as the theoretical framework. The aim is to try to determine if the riders accept or avoid situations, thoughts and emotions of fear.
Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with seven elite freestyle snowboarders (six men and one woman). The content of the interviews where processed with theory driven thematic analysis and inductive thematic analysis.
The analysis revealed eight themes related to the athletes’ experience of fear: (1) Sources of fear, (2) Fear inducing events and situations, (3) Physiological responses, (4) Cognitive changes, (5) Action tendencies, (6) Fear appraisal, (7) Fear and risk and (8) Fear as a problem. In the analysis of the participants’ coping strategies for fear two themes emerged: Coping strategies not related to ACT and ACT-related coping strategies.
It can be concluded from this study that elite freestyle snowboarders at times experience fear when exposed to high risk of injury, and can interpret this experience both as a negative and positive for well-being and performance. Participants use a range of coping strategies for fear; some which are in line with traditional sport psychology with an avoidance approach. Despite no previous ACT training, some participants have developed an accepting approach to relate to fear. The complexity of ACT as a theoretical framework is also demonstrated in this study due to the difficulties in categorizing the distinction between processes and orientations of strategies.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
ACT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Elite athletes, Fear, High-risk, Snowboarding, Sport
Sport and Fitness Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-3451OAI: oai:DiVA.org:gih-3451DiVA: diva2:748283