Balancing Demands and Resources in Sport: Adaptation and Validation of the Demand-Induced Strain Compensation Questionnaire for Use in Sport.

Author:Balk, Yannick A.
Position:Research article - Report


Engaging in sport, whether as a recreational runner or as a professional football player, is often a highly demanding endeavor. Moreover, demands placed on both recreational and elite athletes are on the rise due to a fast-developing and increasingly competitive environment, both face-to-face (Soligard et al., 2016) and online (Latter, 2015). It has been suggested that balancing these high demands (e.g., high levels of concentration, a negative team atmosphere) with sufficient resources (e.g., emotional support from teammates or coach) is important in terms of staying motivated, obtaining personal growth, and performing optimally. However, when there are insufficient resources available to cope with demands in sport (i.e., a high demands-low resources imbalance), negative consequences such as a lack of motivation (Tabei et al., 2012), athlete burnout (Raedeke and Smith, 2004; Smith, 1986), decreased performance (Halson and Jeukendrup, 2004), and even injury (Andersen and Williams, 1988) may ensue for athletes. Therefore, more insight into common demands placed on athletes and resources available to cope with these demands can be valuable for preventing negative consequences of sport participation. At the same time, it may provide clues on how to improve athletes' health, well-being, and performance.

A few questionnaires have been developed so far that aim to measure particular demands or resources in the sport context. For instance, Arnold and colleagues (2013) developed the Organizational Stressor Indicator for Sport Performers (OSI-SP). Other instruments are the Media Stressors in Football Questionnaire (MSFQ; Kristiansen et al., 2012), the Perceived Available Support in Sport Questionnaire (PASS-Q; Freeman et al., 2011), and the Basic Needs Satisfaction in Sport Scale (BNSSS; Ng et al., 2011). However, these existing measures frequently focus on just one particular demand or resource. In addition, some of these demands and resources can be considered organization-level characteristics (e.g., selection processes, leadership, job security). A valid and reliable instrument that simultaneously measures different dimensions of both task-level demands (e.g., need for precision) and resources (e.g., autonomy) in sport is currently unavailable. To address this, the present study aims to investigate the psychometric properties of an adapted survey instrument to simultaneously measure multidimensional (i.e., physical, cognitive, and emotional) demands and resources in sport at task-level. We based this survey instrument on theoretical models and psychometric instruments that were developed in the domain of work and organizational (W/O) psychology that have considerably advanced our understanding of the role of demands and resources at task-level.

The nature of demands and resources

The cognitive-affective stress model of athlete burnout, as developed by Smith (1986), proposes that the first stage of the burnout process is characterized by high situational demands (e.g., pressure to perform, intense physical effort) that outweigh the resources available to athletes. Indeed, several studies have empirically demonstrated that too high sport demands are detrimental to athletic health and well-being, in particular when athletes lack sufficient resources to cope with those demands (DeFreese and Smith, 2013; Raedeke and Smith, 2004; Williams et al., 1991). Likewise, elite sport performers appraised sport-related stressors (e.g., an argument with a coach, lack of social cohesion) as threatening when they experienced little perceived control and few coping resources (Hanton et al., 2012). So, demands and resources in sport cannot be appropriately considered independently from each other. In other words, when considering demands it is vital to simultaneously take into account the availability and potential use of resources.

Theoretical models in the domain of work stress have tried to explain how occupational stress reactions can be explained by two types of task or job characteristics: job demands and job resources. Job demands can be defined as those properties of the work setting that require immediate or sustained physical, cognitive and/or emotional effort (De Jonge and Dormann, 2017). Examples of job demands are workload, time pressure, role conflict, and physical exertion. Job resources are conceptually similar to coping options; they can be broadly conceptualized as job-related assets that can be employed when an employee has to deal with demands at work. Examples of job resources are job control, job variety and workplace social support (De Jonge and Dormann, 2017).

Early theoretical models, such as the Demand-Control (DC) Model (Karasek, 1979) and the Effort-Reward Imbalance (ERI) Model (Siegrist et al. 1986), identified demands and resources from a generic point of view. That is, demands and resources are considered as global and unidimensional constructs. In an attempt to further advance understanding of the interplay between demands and resources at work, De Jonge and Dormann (2003, 2006) developed the Demand-Induced Strain Compensation (DISC) Model. Like Smith's (1986) cognitive-affective stress model, the DC Model, and the ERI Model, the DISC Model assumes that the combination of high demands and low resources will increase the risk of poor health, well-being and performance. When high demands are coupled with sufficient resources they will be associated with positive outcomes. That is, a balance between high demands and high resources will increase health, well-being, and performance (De Jonge et al., 2014). However, new and innovative is the idea that De Jonge and Dormann (2003, 2006) reasoned that there are three specific types of demands, resources, and outcomes. More specifically, the multidimensionality principle of their model proposes that demands, resources and outcomes each consist of a predominantly physical, cognitive, or emotional element (De Jonge and Dormann, 2003, 2006). Empirical support for this principle has been found in different domains such as health care (De Jonge et al., 2004; Lavoie-Tremblay et al., 2014), technology (Van de Ven et al., 2014), education (Feuerhahn et al., 2013), and services like police (Chrisopoulos et al., 2010).

In agreement with the multidimensionality principle of the DISC Model, we propose that both demands and resources in sport consist of a predominantly physical, cognitive, or emotional element. Translated to the sport setting, physical demands are those demands primarily associated with the muscular-skeletal system (i.e., sensorimotor and physical aspects of sport behavior). Without stressing the body physically, athletes will likely not develop and maximize their potential for peak performance. Hence, high physical demands are frequently an innate aspect of engaging in sport. Second, cognitive demands impinge primarily on information processing and complex decisionmaking (e.g., Hanton et al., 2005). For instance, athletes often have to cope with pressure and deal with expectations from themselves and people around them (Anshel and Sutarso, 2007; Hanton et al., 2005; Mellalieu et al., 2009). Lastly, emotional demands in sport are mainly concerned with the effort needed to deal with emotions arising from disappointment about one's own performance, criticism or negative feedback (e.g., Nicholls et al., 2006), from interactions with others (e.g., opponents, referees, audience), and conflict (Hanton et al., 2005; Fletcher et al., 2012). Existing instruments that were designed to assess demands in sport, such as the OSI-SP (Arnold et al., 2013), focus merely on organization-level characteristics, whereas the demands discussed here concern task-level characteristics.

Resources can also consist of a primarily physical, cognitive, or emotional component. First, physical resources in sport are primarily focused on the opportunity to regulate physical exertion, such as being able to take a physical break or to divide one's training load according to one's current physical capacity. Second, cognitive resources are primarily associated with control and informational support. This often comes in the form of the opportunity to determine a variety of training aspects, or when athletes have access to knowledge (e.g., through meetings or clinics) to solve challenges. Lastly, emotional resources in sport mainly concern the opportunity to express emotions freely or receive emotional support from others (e.g., from a teammate or a coach). In addition to having a direct positive effect on...

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