Sport and Gender Differences in Injury and Stress among Division III Athletes

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Scott VanderStoep, Hope College

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Recent attention has been given to injuries in youth sports, specifically with regards to early specialization and athlete stress. However, little research has attempted to link injury to other psychological or participation variables. The purpose of this study was to examine gender and sports-specific differences in injury and athlete stress. Eight-hundred and ninety-five Division III collegiate athletes were sampled in the spring of 2009. The questionnaire assessed five different aspects of sports participation. Results showed differences in swimmers compared to other selected sports (baseball, basketball, football soccer). First, swimmers reported that they began participating in sports at a later age than the other four sports (6.98 vs. 5.81 years, t(489) = 4.68, p<.001). Second, swimmers had significantly fewer acute injuries than the other four major sports (60% vs. 91%, x2(1) = 49.1, p<.001). Third, swimmers felt significantly less stress from coaches than the other major sports (3.33 vs. 3.90 on five-point scale; t(487) = 4.69, p<.001). Results also showed three significant differences with respect to gender. First, female athletes reported more stress than males did from both their mothers (1.78 vs. 2.03 on a five-point scale, t(887)=3.54, p<.001) and fathers (2.06 vs. 2.25 on a five-point scale, t(887)=2.21, p.027). Second, females more strongly agreed that parents put too much pressure on youth athletes (3.70 vs. 3.52 on a five-point scale, t(888)=2.68, p.007). Third, females reported a higher prevalence of chronic injuries than males (62% vs. 51%; x2 = 11.75, p=.001), despite starting athletics at a later age (6.52 vs. 6.03 years; t(878) = 2.95, p=.003). The findings have implications on the assessment of the psychological and physical health in youth sports culture.

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