Semester of Graduation



Master of Science (MS)



Document Type



Collegiate athletes face numerous stressors in both athletic and academic areas of performance. Their perceptions of situations dictate coping responses and their ability to enact behavior or implement strategies to manage stress levels. This study investigated perceived stress and coping strategies using semi-structured in-person interviews with five current NCAA Division I softball players. Three main themes emerged from the interviews: (a) Pressure is Privilege, (b) Team Dynamic and Identity Development, (c) Softball-Centrism. In the first theme, pressure is viewed as a positive aspect and as an opportunity to perform in areas of high and low levels of confidence. Within the second theme, there is a struggle with identity outside of softball that presents challenge and threat appraisals across the participants. Lastly, the third theme demonstrated passive coping strategies geared towards academics and prominent problem- focused coping strategies taught and actively employed in the area of athletics. Primary appraisals portrayed challenge appraisals as the more prominent form of appraisal when faced with present stressors in a NCAA Division I softball setting. While secondary appraisals varied based on the situation, passive coping strategies were associated with academic stress and problem-focused coping associated with athletic stressors. Practical implications from this study provide guidance for coaches and players to navigate relationships with stress and how to cope with specific situations.



Committee Chair

Alex Garn