Coping strategies used by ballet dancers : effects of individual differences in competitive trait anxiety

Moyle, Gene Margaret & Terry, Peter C. (2002) Coping strategies used by ballet dancers : effects of individual differences in competitive trait anxiety. In Wilmerding, Mary V. (Ed.) 20th Annual Performing Arts Medicine Association Symposium, 20 - 23 June 2002, Aspen, Colorado.


The world of classical ballet exerts considerable physical and psychological stress upon those who participate, and yet the process of coping with such stressors is not well understood. The purpose of the present investigation was to examine relationships between coping strategies and competitive trait anxiety among ballet dancers. Participants were 104 classical dancers (81 females and 23 males) ranging in age from 15 to 35 years (M = 19.4 yr., SD = 3.8 yr.) from three professional ballet companies, two private dance schools, and two full-time, university dance courses in Australia. Participants had a mean of 11.5 years of classical dance training (SD = 5.2 yr.), having started dance training at 6.6 years of age (SD = 3.4 yr.).

Coping strategies were assessed using the Modified COPE scale (MCOPE: Crocker & Graham, 1995), a 48-item measure comprising 12 coping subscales (Seeking Social Support for Instrumental Reasons, Seeking Social Support for Emotional Reasons, Behavioral Disengagement, Planning, Suppression of Competing Activities, Venting of Emotions, Humor, Active Coping, Denial, Self-Blame, Effort, and Wishful Thinking). Competitive trait anxiety was assessed using the Sport Anxiety Scale (SAS: Smith, Smoll, & Schutz, 1990), a 21-item measure comprising three anxiety subscales (Somatic Anxiety, Worry, Concentration Disruption).

Standard multiple regression analyses showed that trait anxiety scores, in particular for Somatic Anxiety and Worry, were significant predictors of seven of the 12 coping strategies (Suppression of Competing Activities: R2 = 27.1%; Venting of Emotions: R2 = 23.2%; Active Coping: R2 = 14.3%; Denial: R2 = 17.7%; Self-Blame: R2 = 35.7%; Effort: R2 = 16.6%; Wishful Thinking: R2 = 42.3%). High trait anxious dancers reported more frequent use of all categories of coping strategies. A separate two-way MANOVA showed no significant main effect for gender nor status (professional versus students) and no significant interaction effect.

The present findings are generally consistent with previous research in the sport psychology domain (Crocker & Graham, 1995; Giacobbi & Weinberg, 2000) which has shown that high trait anxious athletes tend, in particular, to use more maladaptive, emotion-focused coping strategies when compared to low trait anxious athletes; a tendency which has been proposed to lead to negative performance effects. The present results emphasize the need for the effectiveness of specific coping strategies to be considered during the process of preparing young classical dancers for a career in professional ballet. In particular, the results suggest that dancers who are, by nature, anxious about performance may need special attention to help them to learn to cope with performance-related stress. Given the absence of differences in coping strategies between student and professional dancers and between males and females, it appears that such educational efforts should begin at an early career stage for all dancers.

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ID Code: 75668
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Ballet Dancers, Coping Strategies, Competitive Trait Anxiety, Performing Arts, Psychology
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Sport and Exercise Psychology (170114)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING (190400) > Dance (190403)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Current > Schools > School of Media, Entertainment & Creative Arts
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2002 [please consult the author]
Deposited On: 27 Aug 2014 23:40
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2014 09:12

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