Personality Professional Adaptation in Sport


M.A. Kuz’min, associate professor, Ph.D.
National University of mineral resources (Mining University), St. Petersburg

Key words: adaptation, objective and subjective factors of adaptation, signs of deadaptation, successful activity, motivation, personality traits, specifics of adaptation.

The problem of personality adaptation in the sphere of work gets especially important due to the fact that the reserve for increasing efficiency of work is concealed in its resolution. Today, there are plenty of studies on the psychological aspects of adaptation of various groups of people, including specialists in different spheres. Due to a huge number of these studies it is difficult to synthesize and classify them. For example, psychological aspects of adaptation have been fairly well studied for various professional groups: students of higher schools of various specializations, as future specialists; workers of different specialties; employees of cultural and educational institutions; civil servants; tax police officers; managers, military servants, personnel of insurance companies, legal investigators; employees engaged in the “man-machine” systems (operators and engineers), etc.

The purpose of the study was to examine the theoretical basis of personality professional adaptation in sport.

Results and discussion. Professional adaptation is a kind of human social adaptation, which is defined as a process of interaction between a personality and social environment, aimed at achieving a certain degree of compliance of human activity with social requirements.

Professional adaptation is a complex of personality adaptation to the physical conditions of professional environment (psychophysiological aspect), adaptation to professional tasks, operations performed, professional information (actually professional aspect), personality adaptation to the social elements of professional environment (socio-psychological aspect) (Psychological support, 1991).

The state of professional adjustment is the result of the process of adaptation to profession. There is a problem of defining the criteria of adjustment of specialist to professional work. Various authors suggest different criteria of professional adjustment: successful activity (performance of duties, growth of skills, interaction with team members and other persons), ability to avoid or effectively eliminate the situations that endanger the labor process, activity without significant physical health disorders (Berezin F.B., 1988); specialist’s satisfaction with job, and management’s satisfaction with an employee (Aref’ev S.L., 1978); socio-psychological well-being of a person (Vertyagina E.A., 2003); level of social status, self-awareness, self-approval, satisfaction with work conditions, communication and life, employee’s performance (Gefle O.F., 2003); efficiency of activity: high productivity, product quality, optimal energy expenditure and neuropsychic costs, professional satisfaction (Psychological support, 1991).

All criteria mentioned above can be sorted in two groups: (i) the objective criteria of professional adjustment, determined by the activity parameters, and (ii) the subjective criteria identified by the factors of personality emotional well-being. This is the most reasonable approach.

A person adapts to any professional situation as an integral system (as an organism and as a personality). There are reasons to consider adaptation as a process involving all key functions of personality. In general, the study of psychological aspects of professional adaptation is a rather popular trend of psychological researches, and a lot of interesting data have been obtained in this sphere. However, there are still many unsolved problems. As a rule, these problems relate to the study of psychological peculiarities of personality adaptation for various types of professional activity.

Sports activity is a special type of activity that has its specific features. Sport is a particular kind of professional activity, though it includes the elements of both play and learning activities.

A lot of researches are dedicated to the study of psychological factors of athletes’ adaptation to sports activity, so their synthesis and classification are problematic. Nonetheless, it is difficult to distinguish more or less general trends, because the specifics of athlete’s adaptation strongly depends on a number of objective factors, such as particular sport, sports skills level, specific competitive conditions. The impact of these factors on the adaptation of athletes may be determined by athlete’s characteristics, both demographic (sex, age) and psychological. In this regard, the adaptation of athletes should be considered basing on the specifics of a particular sport.

Adaptation to sports activity can be studied by considering: athlete’s adaptive responses, personality traits important for adaptation and adjustment level. The study of adaptive responses is an extremely time-consuming process, as it requires immediate intervention into sports activity, which is hardly possible. The study of adaptability and adjustment is more informative (as it provides more stable trends) and easier procedurally.

Let us consider the problem of athlete’s adjustment to sports activity. There are two criteria of person’s adjustment to some activity: objective (efficiency and success of activity) and subjective (dynamics of emotional states and satisfaction with activity).

The success of activity is a subjective estimation of its efficiency (Nikolaev A.N., 1999). The estimate can be made either by a professional (in our case athlete) or by his surroundings (coach, administration, relatives, fans). When evaluating athlete’s success, his capabilities should be always considered (the same result can be a success for one and a failure for another athlete). The athlete’s assessment of his own success depends on the correspondence of achieved result to the personal goals which were expected or intended to achieve by the athlete.

The success of sports activity is most often determined by taken place, level of sports skills, etc.

The view that mental conditions, in which the activity is being carried out, affect the success and efficiency of this activity, is presently considered to be more or less generally accepted. The most complete set of emotional conditions reflecting the subjective criterion of athlete’s adjustment was determined by A.N. Nikolaev (2001). These conditions include general state, activity, mood, stress, anxiety, confidence and excitement.

The precompetitive conditions almost always differ from the usual ones, and they are not always optimal. In some cases one can speak of a linear (positive or negative) relation between emotional conditions and success of activity. However, there are nonlinear forms of the relationship between emotional conditions and activity parameters, according to which the average level of some conditions is the best one.

An optimality criterion is required to judge on a particular precompetitive state of an athlete; the optimality criterion of state is determined by establishing the relationship between the result achieved by an athlete in a competition and the preceding state.

Athlete’s mental conditions are studied to predict his competitive success. Particular attention should be paid to negative experiences, as they can disorganize activity, result in its regression down to the simplest levels with the loss of most comlicated newly acquired skills, stereotype disruption, reduction of mental processes and functions.

There are some difficulties in studying the role of mental conditions in the competitive success. Every athlete has individual emotional states and their influence on his activities (Stambulova N.B., 1999). Every athlete has his own set of states formed, providing successful competitive performance; in this regard one can speak about the existence of “individual zones of optimal functioning” (Hanin Y.L., 1997). Besides, the relationship between states and activity success may depend strongly on the specifics of sport and conditions of competitive activity.

The satisfaction with sports activity has not been studied for a long time. Recently, works addressing this phenomenon by itself and in relation with sports activity success are appearing (Stambulova N.B., 1999). There are data that prove the close interrelation between success in sports activity and athletes’ satisfaction with this activity. However, the manner of interrelations between mental conditions and satisfaction with sports activity is presently unknown.

Conclusions. The objective and subjective criteria of adjustment to sports activity in representatives of different sports have not been studied by now. The problem of diagnosis and formation of athletes' readiness for competition is most frequent in the works of various authors, which is sometimes considered as an indicator of the degree of athlete' personality adaptation to the conditions of sports activity. However, readiness for a competition is rather a factor of athlete's adjustment to it.

The measure of severity and connection of prestarting conditions (general state, activity, mood, stress, anxiety, confidence, excitation), success of competitive activity and satisfaction with it has not been defined. However, the solution to this scientific problem seems to be crucial in terms of improving psychological training of these athletes to enhance their activity.


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