Computerised system to rate junior athletes' psycho-emotional stability in team and individual sport disciplines


N.I. Ismailova1
Dr. Sc. Psych., Professor, Honoured Worker of Science and Technology of the Russian Federation Y.A. Tsagarelli2
Honoured coach of the Republic of Tatarstan S.L. Shumikhin3
1Elabuga Institute of Kazan Federal University, Elabuga
2Acceptor International scientific-production Association, Kazan
3Municipal budgetary institution of additional education "Olimp CYSS", Elabuga municipal district of the Republic of Tatarstan, Elabuga


Keywords: psycho-emotional stability, personal qualities, junior athletes, individual and team sports, computerised system.

Background. Modern youth sports promotion and advancement process may be successful only when facilitated by a psychological support service basically designed to study and control the mental control mechanisms regulating the physical activity, feelings and behaviours of junior athletes.

For competitive success in modern sports, an athlete must demonstrate high functionality rates, high adaptability rates under physical loads, good competitive progress and efficient post-exercise recovery etc. [6]. It should be noted that no less important for the competitive progress and athletic fitness is the mental balance on the whole and the psycho-emotional stability in particular as a component of the latter and a special mental quality enabling an athlete to perform under physical, emotional and intellectual pressures [3]. Athletic career requires high psycho-emotional stability, particularly in stressful competitive situations. Poor psycho-emotional stability is always associated with low mental balance that in its turn results in multiple errors, retirements, failures, nervous breakdowns etc. [1].

Sports may be viewed as a special form of activity associated with high physical and mental stresses that need to be countered by perfectly developed personal qualities critical for success in specific sport discipline [4]. Thus the top competitors in fencing and single figure skating normally demonstrate high leadership, risk-control, prudence, innovation and self-control qualities [5]. Team sports like basketball or volleyball require high courage, insistence, discipline and determination from the athletes [2].

Objective of the study was to profile the psycho-emotional stability versus personality qualities in youth individual and team sports.

Methods and structure of the study. Subject to the study were 62 male athletes aged 13-14 years from “Olimp” Children’s and Youth Sport School of the Yelabuga Municipal District in the Republic of Tatarstan split up into Group 1 (n=30) and Group 2 (n=32) composed of the subjects going in for individual (tennis and badminton) and team (football, ice hockey) sports, respectively. The subjects were tested in the regular training processes by situations similar to the ones at actual competitions. Their psycho-emotional stability was tested using a computerised Activation-meter AT-9K system designed by Dr. Sc. Psych., Professor, Honoured Worker of Science and Technology of the Russian Federation Y.A. Tsagarelli. The system was selected for the study purposes due to its proven high sensitivity, reliability and accuracy in the psycho-emotional stability tests. Subject to the psycho-emotional stability rating tests were the emotional response rates at rest and under stressors closely modelling the actual competitive ones.

Personality qualities of the subjects were rated using by the Cattel’s 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire – with a special emphasis on the stable and interrelated personality qualities giving the means to assess the individual nature and behaviour.

The resultant test data arrays were tested by the Student’s t-criterion to rate the statistical significance of the intergroup differences. Pearson’s correlation criterion was applied to rate the intergroup correlations within each sample i.e. correlations of the junior athletes’ psycho-emotional stability rates and the personality qualities in individual versus team sports. The divergence analysis made it possible to compare the coupled correlations and find statistically significant differences in the intergroup data clusters. The statistical data processing was made using the standard Microsoft Excel-2007 toolkit.

Study results and discussion. Given in Table 1 hereunder are psycho-emotional stability and personality quality test data of the junior individual versus team athletes.

Table 1. Psycho-emotional stability and personality quality test data of the junior individual versus team athletes

Test rates



Student’s t-criterion

Difference significance rate, p

Psycho-emotional stability





Personality qualities:

Self-control (Q3 factor)

Conformism rate (Q2 factor)

Dominance/ dependence rate (E factor)

Behavioural norm (G factor)





















Note: ISD individual sport disciplines; TSD team sport disciplines; ***p≤0.001; **p≤0.01; *p≤0,05

The above data and analysis showed the following: the junior team athletes were tested with high psycho-emotional stability rates manifested in modest emotional responses to the competitive stressors; with this stability enabling them to demonstrate good self-control and high mental performance standards i.e. the ability to control their own behaviour and keep in check the psycho-emotional tension in extreme and sub-extreme situations (p≤0.01). The individual athletes were tested with low psycho-emotional stability rates and low tolerance to the competitive stressors and emotional situations.

Furthermore, the above data showed some differences in the group personality rates. Thus the junior team athletes were tested with high self-control rates i.e. they are able to control their emotions and core behaviours; highly disciplined, prone to organising activity, socially attentive and caring of their own reputation (Q3 factor, p≤0.01). Furthermore, junior team (football, ice hockey) athletes were found prone to cooperation and conformism and easily accepting the group moral rules and norms. Such athletes are driven by the call of duty and high responsibility for the teamwork (G factor, p≤0.05). The individual athletes were tested prone to non-conformism (Q2 factor, p≤0.01). They demonstrate independence, self-reliance and resourcefulness. The self-dependence, reliance on the own opinion and proneness to dominance put the athletes in some opposition to a group. In addition, the individual athletes are generally driven by their own views and behavioural rules and highly self-confident. The high “Self” rating and dominance qualities form extra-punitive behavioural type with high resistance, non-compliance and non-acceptance of orders, requirements and too active interference (E factor, p≤0.05).

We used correlation analysis to form clusters of the test rates for the two groups of athletes; and the divergence analysis (g=1971.58, р=0.001) found the correlations of the psycho-emotional stability and personality qualities being significant.

In the junior team athletes group, the psycho-emotional stability was found directly correlating with a few personality mental qualities including high self-control rates (Q3 factor, r=0.43; p<0.05), emotional stability rates (С factor, r=0.46; p<0.05) and self-restraint rates (F factor, r=0.41; p<0.05). This means that the psycho-emotional stability is associated in them with high ability to soberly assess situations, good discipline, social moral compliance, fast decision-making, prudence and discretion in making friends.

In the junior individual athletes group, the psycho-emotional stability was found inversely correlating with a few personal mental qualities including the non-conformism rates (Q2 factor, r=0.39; p<0.05) and sensitivity rates (I factor, r=0.41; p<0.05). It means that the psycho-emotional stability in the individual athletes is relatively low and manifested in high self-reliance and demonstrative neglect to support and recognition of the surrounding people. These qualities may be due to the wide range of emotional responses, focus on their own errors and high emotional volatility.

Conclusion. The junior team athletes were tested with high ability to maintain the optimal mental balance in competitions as verified by high psycho-emotional stability rates and high self-control, determination and discipline rates; and all these qualities are highly valuable for competitive success.

The junior individual athletes were found prone to low psycho-emotional stability and extra-punitive behavioural models dominated by disobedience, resistance, incompliance – that may trigger psycho-emotional imbalances in competitions and hamper the key competitive qualities and skills being developed for competitive success.

The study findings may be particularly helpful for the coaches in individual sport disciplines in their efforts to develop individual stress-tolerance in the junior trainees in the sport-specific training and competitive environments; design individual mental control progress paths to develop professionally important qualities for competitive success; and profile the psychological adaptation process under extreme competitive stressors.


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Corresponding author:


Top priority in the training system design is given to the junior athletes’ mental stability and self-control under sport-specific emotional pressures as they are considered one of the key prerequisites for progress and competitive accomplishments. These fitness components are collectively referred to as the psycho-emotional stability that was rated and analysed in the study using the computerised Activation-meter AT-9K system in application to junior team and individual athletes. Every sport is known to develop a range of sport-specific individual mental qualities that may be rated by the Cattel’s 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire. Objective of the study was to rate and analyse the junior athletes’ (n=62) psycho-emotional stability and personality qualities important for the relevant team and individual sports. The subjects engaged in team sports were tested with well-developed self-control, purposefulness, discipline and high psycho-emotional stability rates. These sport-specific qualities help them keep under control the mental and emotional stresses and maintain the optimal emotional balance for high performance and competitive success. The subjects engaged in individual sports were found to rely on luck and show a fair self-confidence and independence in their judgements and behaviours. Their psycho-emotional stability rates are not high enough and, hence, they are more vulnerable to tension and prone to emotional outbursts, and this fact needs to be taken into account in the sport excellence process design.