Spain is one of the many countries highly affected by the COVID-19 crisis, establishing very restrictive measures with a complete lockdown for more than 3 months. This situation forced the complete closure of sport practice and national or international competitions, leading to a negative impact on physical and psychological health of high-performance athletes. Therefore, the objectives of this study were (a) to determine the effects of the COVID-19 health crisis on Spanish high-performance athletes in terms of sports practice, life quality, and emotional state and (b) to identify the profile with the greatest difficulties during and after the lockdown. A sample of 130 high-performance athletes aged between 18 and 34 years (67 women and 63 men) participated in this study (83.1% achieved a medal in National–International elite competitions; 86.9% were considered student-athletes). Measures included socio-demographic data through a 5-dimension ad hoc survey: physical activity and exercise using an adapted version from the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ); health status and limitations using an adapted version of SF-12 Health Questionnaire; Perceived stress (Short-PSS); and Mood States (29-item POMS). All participants have shown a significant decrease pre–post-lockdown in both health and performance perception, especially in women, individual athletes, medalists, and student-athletes. Strong limitations of training, attention, and motivation as well as a moderate negative emotional state during lockdown were reported, in women, individual athletes, medalists, and student-athletes. Even with an improved emotional state and energy level in the post-lockdown period, moderate-to-high stress scores were reported by women and medalists. Our findings highlight the importance of paying attention to the physical and psychological health of elite athletes on three profiles: team athletes (due to social distance), student-athletes (dual-career issues), and women athletes (prevalence of implicit gender inequalities in sport).
|Journal||Frontiers in Psychology|
|Publication status||Published - 27 Sep 2021|
- elite athletes
- emotional state
- sports performance