Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences


Sport and Exercise Psychology

Committee Chair

Damien Clement

Committee Co-Chair

Monica Leppma

Committee Member

Samuel Zizzi


Self-compassion is a useful coping tool to enhance adaptive coping, promote well-being, and reduce anxiety in the face of stress (Neff, 2003a; Allen & Leary, 2010). Studies exploring the role of self-compassion within the context of sport indicate the utility of self-compassion for female athletes in coping with negative events in sport (Mosewich et al., 2013), promoting positivity and responsibility (Ferguson et al., 2014), and reducing negative self-evaluative thoughts (Mosewich et al, 2011). Within the context of Williams and Andersen's (1998) stress-injury framework and the moderating effect of coping resources on injury susceptibility, self-compassion was newly explored. Specifically, this study aimed to determine the role of self-compassion as a coping resource and a tool to cognitively reframe stressful sport and life experiences in collegiate athletes. The subsequent impact on frequency and severity of injury was also explored. Participants were collegiate athletes (n = 117) who participated in NCAA Division II sports at one university in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. A prospective study design was used to evaluate the associations between baseline measures of stress, anxiety and coping and frequency or severity of injury during the competitive season. Bi-variate analyses and multiple linear regression modeling were used to analyze the results. Findings indicated that self-compassion may buffer the experience of somatic anxiety (rs= -.436, p < .001) and worry ( rs= -.351, p < .001) in collegiate athletes and reduce the engagement of avoidance-focused coping strategies (rs= -.362, p < .001). However, several of the findings were in contrast with self-compassion research in the general population, which included a negative association between self-compassion and emotion-focused coping (rs= -.259, p < .001). There were no significant findings related to the role of self-compassion in injury risk reduction. Findings that focused specifically on the traditional components of Williams and Andersen's stress-injury model were also mixed. A negative association was found between positive life stress and frequency of injury (rs= -.257, p < .05), suggesting that certain positive experiences may be reduce injury risk. Additionally, negative life stress was negatively associated with emotion-focused (rs= -.242, p < .05) and avoidance-focused coping (rs = -.249, p < .05 ). However, there were no significant findings for negative life stress and injury. In summary, findings confirmed the role of several psychological factors in the stress-injury framework and indicated that there may be some use for self-compassion within the context of sport. There is a need to further assess levels of self-compassion in collegiate athletes as well as the role of self-compassion as a focus for interventions to lower stress, anxiety and injury susceptibility.