Self-Compassion and Setbacks

Failure and setbacks in sport are inevitable. Setbacks in sport occur when a particular event is viewed as an obstruction towards achieving an athlete’s sport-specific goals (e.g., injuries, unwanted/unplanned competitive outcomes, personal/others’ expectations; Gould et al., 1993; Johnson et al., 2020; Mosewich et al., 2014). Setbacks are often perceived as a source of stress, therefore the coping methods used by athletes can drastically alter the overall impact of their experience (Mosewich et al., 2014). Self-compassion can potentially be used by athletes to manage negative thoughts and emotions associated with these events, and return to their sport with a stronger mindset (Sutherland et al., 2014). 


Key Findings


Ceccarelli, L. A., Giuliano, R. J., Glazebrook, C. M., & Strachan, S. M. (2019). Self-compassion and psycho-physiological recovery from recalled sport failure. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1-14. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01564


Gould, D., Jackson, S., & Finch, L. (1993). Sources of stress in national champion figure skaters, Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 15(2), 134-159. 


Huysmans, Z., & Clement, D. (2017). A preliminary exploration of the application of self-compassion within the context of sport injury. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 39, 56-66. doi:10.1123/jsep.2016-0144


Johnson, K. L. (2020). Exploring the relationship between mental toughness and self-compassion in the context of sport injury: A mixed methods approach [Master’s thesis]. University of Saskatchewan. HARVEST


Mosewich, A. D., Crocker, P. R. E., & Kowalski, K. C. (2014). Managing injury and other setbacks in sport: Experiences of (and resources for) high-performance women athletes. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 6, 182-204. doi:10.1080/2159676X.2013.766810


Reis, N. A., Kowalski, K. C., Ferguson, L. J., Sabiston, C. M., Sedgwick, W. A., & Crocker, P. R. E. (2015). Self-compassion and women athletes’ responses to emotionally difficult sport situations: An evaluation of a brief induction. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 16, 18-25. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2014.08.011


Sutherland, L. M., Kowalski, K. C., Ferguson, L. J., Sabiston, C. M., Sedgwick, W. A., & Crocker, P. R. E. (2014). Narratives of young women athletes’ experiences of emotional pain and self-compassion. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 6, 499-516. doi:10.1080/2159676X.2014.888587


Wilson, D., Bennett, E. V., Mosewich, A. D., Faulkner, G. E., & Crocker, P. R. E. (2019). “The zipper effect”: Exploring the interrelationship of mental toughness and self-compassion among Canadian elite women athletes. Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 40, 61-70. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2018.09.006