Reflecting on the Game: Situational Stressors, Stress Responses, and Coping in German Elite Volleyball Referees

Lisa-Marie Rückel*, Benjamin Noël, André Jungen, Sebastian Brückner, Bernd Strauss, Stefanie Klatt

*Corresponding author for this work

Publication: Contribution to journalJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


This study uses a thematic content analysis to analyze common stressors for volleyball referees, examine the individual triggered stress responses, and identify the applied coping strategies. A total of 38 German elite volleyball referees (24 male and 14 female, Mage = 38.29 years, SD = 7.91 years) were considered for this study. Through the analysis, 17 stressful events, 14 stress responses, and 6 different coping strategies were identified and further clustered into four main dimensions. Common stressors among elite German volleyball referees were identified as stressful game situations, need for game management, situational environment, and demands on self-activation. These stressors triggered emotional stress reactions, cognitive stress reactions, changes in focus, and reactions among the test group after increased strain. In order to deal with these situations and emotions, referees applied self-regulation strategies, improved focus and concentration, searched for a solution, prepared for the match or a stressor, showed a confident appearance, and tried to accept and let go of mistakes or situations. Post hoc Pearson’s correlation analyses showed significant relationships between emotional and cognitive stress reactions with stressful game situations. Consequently, the role of coping with emotions and thoughts becomes essential for volleyball referees to remain focused and perform.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCase Studies in Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)124–134
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 01.2021


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