Introduction

College student athletes engage in various kinds of sports based on their talents, interests or other personal reasons. Sporting is characterized with elements of stress as seen from research mainly from the competition, uncertainty of the outcome, isolation, identity crisis and other effects from lack of enough time to engage with other activities as well as the perceptions of their peers, family and society to them with their individual expectations.

While much research is based on addressing these stress factors the college student athletes are faced with (Donohue, Miller, Crammer, Cross and Covassin, 2007), it is worth realizing that they are also students and hence not exempted from academics.

It is therefore necessary to focus on how college athletes deal with stress from sports, social life involvement and academics. This project recognizes the need to address these issues as being very crucial. We thus seek to provide recommendations for enabling college student athletes to deal with stress from sports, social life and academics as well as adequately create a balance in these areas through effective time management.

Description of Intervention

Research asserts that engaging in leisure activities acts as a way of coping with stress and related problems due to the directing of tension, anger and other emotions to some physical activity such as sporting activity (Chalip, Thomas & Voyle, 1992).

However, further research has found that engaging in a sporting activity can also be a source of stress in itself especially due to the aspects of competitions, injuries, high expectations of relevant people on the athletes and balancing in life (Donohue et al., 2007). The college student athletes are faced with specific problems that stem from the sports, academics, social life and other significant relationships in their lives.

Donohue et al. (2007) suggest that the lack of a standardized instrument to measure the specific problems experienced by college student athletes makes it difficult to address their problems. They however argue that the college student athlete is faced with specific problems that are mostly stress-related.

This project seeks to evaluate and address the aspects of stress, social life and academics that college student athletes face and the various ways of enabling them deal with such stress issues and establish a balance between their sports, academics and social life. In particular, the intervention will put emphasis on improving the relationship of the athletes with their coaches.

Elements of Intervention

College student athletes, as Donohue et al. (2007) assert, have specific problems that are not adequately addressed through standard research instruments. In this project, the elements are based on the sources of stress for the college student athletes. The main focus is on the relationships the athletes have which determine their negative or positive reactions and attitudes.

These relevant relationships are with their families, peers, teammates and coaches. In addressing these relations, more emphasis has been laid on the coaches since research shows that college student athletes have positive relationships with their families, peers and teammates but negative relations with their coaches due to their use of punitive measures (Donohue et al., 2007).

Further, as Kimball and Freysinger (2003) suggest, the elements of gender and race are of concern in this project. The research provides that there are significant differences in the perceptions of college student athletes in reference to gender.

While females are more affected in terms of the desire for close social relations due to their relational attributes, males are less affected by social isolation although both genders are affected to some degree. Additionally, the element of race comes up with the fact that race plays a crucial role in the stress issues of college student athletes (Kimball & Freysinger, 2003).

The students from a minority race are more affected socially from their involvement in social activity since the level of isolation increases from the effects of racial minority and involvement in sports. Additionally, others are less affected from stress issues since participation in the sporting activities helps them have teammates as friends thus reducing their levels of isolation.

The element of academics – particularly the graduation rates of college student athletes – is raised by Rishe (2003). While the study recognizes that there is no significant difference in the graduation rates between college athletes and non-athletes, it recognizes that this is from the support mechanisms that enable the college athletes manage time effectively. This means that the community, especially the school administration, has to develop programs that enable the college athletes to balance their academics and sports.

In this regard, academics are significant in the lives of the college student athletes since it is not guaranteed for them to engage in professional sports. This project is thus evidence based coaching practice and training to enable coaches become influential in helping the college student athletes deal with stress in their sports and advice them on balancing their sports, academics and social life.

Further, the project involves the production of a manual for the use by the stakeholders and college student athletes based on time management and dealing with stress. The basic question of the research study for this project is whether the democratic style of leadership for coaches can positively influence student college athletes in terms of motivation and help them deal with stress issues they face.

Contribution and Implementation of the Intervention

The contributions of this project are bound to be vast. This is relevant not just for the athletes but also the administrators, analysts, coaches, teachers, peers, families and their friends.

This intervention has the ability to increase the awareness of the specific problems facing the college athletes and provide opportunity to be used as a survey instrument in addressing these problems. This project also contributes to the field of sports and leisure by addressing leisure as a cause of stress so that it can maintain its objective of enabling the college athletes cope with stress.

The contributions of the elements raised increases the realization of the policy makers to address them such as racial discrimination in schools and the aspects of gender issues in sports. This research study can also be useful as a foundation of future research since the field of college athletes issues of stress is very wide and thus this project focuses on one section of this field.

The implementation of the intervention requires the training of coaches through the evidence-based research. Since the focus of the research study is on whether the democratic style of leadership for coaches can help college athletes deal with stress issues, the coaches are the main focus.

The sample is made up of ten coaches of different schools and in randomly selected sporting activities. The success of their leadership will be determined through a pre test questionnaire as well as post test analysis of such leadership. The success of democratic leadership will also require the evaluation of the athletes who are 100, ten from each school.

The manuals on stress and time management for college student athletes can be adequately applied by the stakeholders such as school administrators, policy makers, parents, students, the government and the athletes themselves together with their peers to enable them become aware of the specific problems the college students athletes face and the ways of helping them deal with them.

The implementation can be based in training programs, encouraging support for the athletes especially for the relationships they have with their families, teammates, coaches and peers as well as teammates and strict adherence to academic requirements by the administrators to enable the student athletes adequately participate in academics increasing their success. Further implementation is through counseling programs and the encouragement of positive behaviors for the athletes.

Evaluation of the Intervention

The intervention in this project recognizes that there is limited standardized instrument for research in specific problems facing college student athletes (Donohue et al., 2007). The evaluation of the success of this research study is based on the objectives of the study and makes use of evaluation measures applied in other past relevant research.

The use of the evidence based coaching practice would require training of the coaches and the use of manuals for counseling of students athletes while encouraging their training and that of the relevant people in their lives. The aim of the project is to foster positive coaching style for the coaches specifically the democratic style which increases the level of motivation of the athletes thus enabling them deal with the problems facing them objectively (Donohue et al., 2007).

Further, it seeks to increase the awareness of the relevant people in the lives of the athletes on the specific problems the athletes face. These relevant relationships are their families, peers and teammates with the objective of enabling them increase their support for the college student athletes in the areas of social life mostly for the peers and teammates, encouraging balance between sports and academics mostly by the families while the teammates are able to encourage positive behaviors among themselves.

Further, the intervention hopes to increase the skills of the college student athletes in their management of stress related issues from sports, social life and academics and the increasing their ability to balance the areas. The evaluation of the support of the peers would involve the SARI instrument based on 10 statements from Donohue et al. (2007) and also other support in terms of general interactions, cheering and support during sporting events and inclusion of college athletes in their academic discussions.

The evaluation of the objectives of the project is based on the target group of the coaches as well as the subjects of study who are the college athletes. In the case of the coaches, the evaluation is based on the expectations upon them which are the adopting of the democratic style of leadership. This will be measured through the level of support, praise and social support they offer to the college student athletes.

The evaluation of this is based on the Student Athlete Relationship Instrument developed by Donohue et al. (2007). This instrument utilizes 25 statements for the relationships the athletes have with the coaches based on a 7-point Likert scale with the scale items ranging from “extremely disagree” to “extremely agree”. This measures the level of motivation the athletes have to the sport due to their coaches as well as their perceptions of his/her coaching style.

Further evaluation of the effectiveness of the coaches’ practice would be based on observation means assessing the use of positive feedback and the reinforcements’ strategies used in the course of the sports training and interactions with the college student athletes (Donohue et al., 2007). The non-democratic style shall be seen from the diversions from the positive results expected, the SARI reports of the athletes and the observation of the communication and support the coach gives to the athletes.

The evaluation of the changes in the relevant people in the lives of the athletes would also make use of the Student Athlete Relationship Instrument (SARI) by Donohue et al. (2007) based on each group. For example, in evaluating the success impact of the manuals on the families, the instrument would make use of 24 statements on family support for the athletes to answer.

The aspect of graduation rates among college athletes would be measured using the measures adapted in Rishe (2003) which would reveal the effect of training programs and the ability of the college student athletes to balance between sports, social life and their academic requirements. All these measures are based on the objective of the study based on democratic leadership in terms of how this can increase the motivation and confidence of the athletes to have their peers also believe in them and cheer them.

Further, the measures on alcohol related problems and gambling are based on evaluating how the democratic style of leadership by coaches can help athletes deal with stress issues more objectively thus avoiding such behaviors. This style is also evaluated in interactions between teammates in the influence of democratic style in fostering teamwork.

The ability to gauge unexpected outcomes would be based on the diversion of the results from the expectations, while the results would also reveal the personal influence on the project. The measures used for evaluation as the SARI measures, Daily Drinking questionnaire, Rutgers Alcohol Problems Index, measures adapted in Rishe (2003) can be applied in other studies and contexts involving college students especially on alcohol and other behavioral studies (Leichliter, Meilman, Presley & Cashin, 1998).

The effects of changes affecting the whole system such as the administration of the school and the family unit through the changes of the student would be identified through feedback mechanisms both the feedback received as well as the failure to receive any feedback (Sherburne & Ruth, 2010).

This is also to be established through observational studies and evaluation for changes. The procedure to conduct this project would involve communication with the schools and relevant administration and mostly the coaches. This would then facilitate the issuing of questionnaires to the coaches regarding their style of leadership and their perceptions of how affects the college athletes.

The college student athletes will also be given questionnaires to fill and return at their own convenience. Emphasis would be on the practice training of the coaches with regards the styles of leadership as well as the motivations and support of athletes. This would involve delegations with them on the need to come up with strategies for identifying and solving specific problems of the student athletes and then initiating practice for the application of the democratic style.

The findings from the research would be mailed to the families and communicated face to face with the coaches, school administrators and the athletes themselves and mailed for other users such as sport psychologists.

The other factors to be considered in the project would be differentiating the support of families from pressure-related stress on the athletes, the season for carrying out the project since past research has established that research done on athletes need to be in the season of sporting activity to increase the levels of feedback and reliability of information received (Kimball & Freysinger, 2003), the differences in sports in terms of stress levels and support accorded (Martens, Dams-O’Connor, Duffy & Gibson, 2006)

The college athletes are not the main study sample, but they are part of the subjects involved in gauging the success of the selected sample which is ten coaches. The main focus is no the effects of their use of democratic style of leadership on the athletes mainly in dealing with their stress related issues.

Conclusion

College student athletes are affected by specific problems most of which are associated with stress factors. This project intervention will evaluate the specific problems college student athletes face in terms of stress from their sporting activities, social life and academics.

It will provide the mechanisms for addressing ways of establishing balance through increased support by focusing on the effectiveness of the use of democratic style of leadership for coaches. The project is evidence based coach practice and training, and evaluation. The project has established the implementation and contributions to sports study and the modes of evaluation. The factors of concern however are the effects of democratic style of leadership, differences in sports and the season of carrying out the research.

Reference List

Chalip, L., Thomas, D. R., & Voyle, J. (1992). Sport, recreation, and well-being. Palmerston North, NZ: Dunmore Press.

Donohue, B., Miller, A., Crammer, L., Cross, C., & Covassin, T. (2007). A standardized method of assessing sport specific problems in the relationships of athletes with their coaches, teammates, family and peers. Journal of Sport Behavior, 30(4), 375-397.

Kimball, A., & Freysinger, V. (2003). Leisure, stress, and coping: The sport participation of collegiate student-athletes. Leisure Sciences, 25, 115-141.

Leichliter, S., Meilman, W., Presley, A., & Cashin, J. (1998). Alcohol use and related consequences among students with varying levels of involvement in college athletics. Journal of American College Health, 46, 257–262.

Martens, M., Dams-O’Connor, K., Duffy, C., & Gibson, J. (2006). Perceived alcohol use among friends and alcohol consumption among college athletes. Journal of the Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behavior, 20(2), 178-184.

Rishe, P. (2003). A reexamination of how athletic success impacts graduation rates: Comparing student athletes to all other undergraduates. American Journal of Economics, 62(2), 407-427.

Sherburne, C., & Ruth, S. (2010). College athletes’ perceptions about relational development, communication and interpersonal competence. Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 70(9), 419-429.