Practises of Weight Regulation among Elite Athletes in Combat Sports: A matter of Mental Advantage?
Författare och institution:
Stefan Pettersson (Institutionen för mat, hälsa och miljö); Marianne Pipping Ekström (Institutionen för mat, hälsa och miljö); Christina Berg (Institutionen för mat, hälsa och miljö)
Poster presentation at the 2010 annual International Society for Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA) meeting in Minneapolis, USA,
Weight Regulation among Elite Athletes in Combat Sports: A matter of Mental advantage?
Background and aim
Studies have shown that combat sports athletes often compete in weight categories 5-10% below their normal body weight. The combination of extensive weight loss and inadequate nutritional strategies to rapidly lose weight for competition in weight category sports could negatively affect athletic performance and health. To the best of our knowledge, no research have investigated elite athletes´ opinions of short-term weight regulation in combat sports, especially the perceived benefits of these practises. Therefore, the aim of the present study is to improve the understanding of elite athletes’ reasoning regarding rapid weight loss and regain prior to competition.
Participants in the study consisted of 14 athletes (9 men, 5 women) of the Swedish national teams in the Olympic sports of wrestling, judo and taekwondo. Trough semi-structured interviews, the athletes´ contributed with information about their weight-regulating practises and experiences of such, as well as more general opinions about the practise of weight regulation within the participants’ own sport. All interviews were transcribed verbatim, ending up in 147 pages of single-spaced text.
Using Grounded Theory as the theoretical framework, the analysis was performed by an initial coding of different attributes, followed by grouping conceptually similar attributes into categories. The combined essence of these three categories (Figure 1), generated the theory building core category. In the final stages of the analysis, external data (interviews/statements from combat sports athletes posted on the internet) was included. These actions was taken in order to reduce the likelihood of the first authors’ unconscious influence on the participants during the interviews, and to show that conformity exists between data irrespective of source.
The results show that the opinion about the positive outcomes by weight regulation are not restricted to just being a possible royal road to victory through physical dominance of ones´ opponent. Weight regulation practises make up for an important part of the combat sport athletes´ identity. The feelings of inclusion to the sport specific group along with mediating a self-image of being “a real athlete” by practising weight regulation signals professionalism, toughness and success to the athletes´ surroundings.
Moreover, weight regulation is considered mentally important as a part of the pre-competition preparations; both acting as a coping strategy by reducing pre-competition anxiety, but also creating a feeling of increased motivation and commitment, a feeling that under the right conditions can transform into enhanced self-esteem during the competition. Also, the practice gives the individual athlete a perceived advantage relative the opponent.
Thus, weight regulation per se is an important part of combat sports. This can be a contributing factor as to why athletes adopt the practice without further questioning the negative aspects regarding health and performance.
Conclusions Weight regulation practises have mentally important functions extending beyond the common notion of combat sport athletes merely reducing their weight in order to gain a physical edge on their opponents. Thus, in nutritional counselling it is important not to have prejudice about the reasons behind intentional weight loss.
Ämne (baseras på Högskoleverkets indelning av forskningsämnen):
MEDICIN OCH HÄLSOVETENSKAP ->
Lantbruksvetenskap, skogsbruk och fiske ->
Hushålls- och kostvetenskap
Sports nutrition, combat sports, weight category sports
Visa i Endnote-format