Self-regulation in endurance sports: theory, research, and practice

McCormick, Alister, Meijen, Carla, Anstiss, Paul A and Massey, Hollie orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9793-8702 (2019) Self-regulation in endurance sports: theory, research, and practice. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 12 (1). pp. 235-264. ISSN 1750-984X

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There is considerable research interest in psychological aspects of endurance performance. Until recently, research typically lacked a theoretical underpinning, and contemporary research is particularly informed by the psychobiological model of endurance performance. In this critical review, we propose that psychological theories relating to self-regulation, particularly self-efficacy theory and the process model of emotion regulation, could shed more light on how endurance performance is determined and lead to additional understanding of how psychological interventions can be used. We argue that people encounter fewer stressors in most experimental studies than are encountered before and during real-life events. In addition, we argue that most research conducted to date has focused on the forethought and performance phases of self-regulation, rather than the self-reflection phase, and research has not considered the cyclical nature of self-regulation. We also argue that if research participants are not endurance athletes, then their motivation may not be self-determined, and self-regulatory learning may not take place. Recommendations are given for future research, and evidence-based guidance is offered on enhancing performance and improving the quality of experience for endurance athletes.

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