University athletes' competitive success versus their affective tolerance and stress-tolerance rates



N.I. Ismailova1
PhD, Associate Professor G.K. Biserova1
PhD, Associate Professor Zh.I.  G.M. Ljdokova1
1Yelabuga branch of Kazan Federal University, Yelabuga

Keywords: affective tolerance, stress-tolerance, personality qualities, university athletes, computerized test system.

Background. Modern researchers tend to define mental fitness in sports as self-confidence, readiness to fight and win, fully mobilize the individual resource to attain expected goals, and due mental balancing skills. V.G. Pashintsev refers to athletic mental fitness as one of the leading factors for competitive success, together with functional and physical fitness, technical and tactical mastery and tactical process management skills [3]. Y.A. Tsagarelli interprets mental fitness as the individual ability to maintain good self-control and self-rating ability under competitive process stressors with due affective tolerance, high dependability and working capacity in extreme situations based on a range of relevant personality qualities critical for competitive success. We would underline affective tolerance in extreme situations i.e. the individual ability to focus on the competitive process goals and operate in an error-free, timely and precise manner under stresses for success of the competitive process mission [4]. Some researchers rate affective tolerance as the special mental quality making it possible to resist physical, emotional and intellectual stressors, the ability providing a basis for competitive mental fitness and performance [2, 5].

For success in competitions, athletes need to develop relevant personality qualities to resist high sport-specific physical loads and mental stresses [1] including leadership ambitions, readiness to risk, prudence, innovative thinking, self-control, courage, insistence, discipline and problem-solving skills.

Objective of the study was to profile university athletes’ personality qualities versus their competitive success rates.

Methods and structure of the study. Subject to the study were 19-21 year-old students (n=60) of Yelabuga Institute of Kazan Federal University majoring in Physical Education, with the sample being split up into the following two groups. Group one (n=30) was composed of successful university athletes, prize-winners of high-ranking (regional, national and international) events. Group two (n=30) was composed of less successful academic athletes without high competitive accomplishments. Thus, Group 1 and Group 2 are referred to herein as provisionally successful and unsuccessful

The affective tolerance and stress tolerance in extreme situations (as per Y.A. Tsagarelli) were measured by the mental fitness tests, with the computerized Activatiometer AC-9K Test System (designed by Professor and Doctor of Psychology Y.A. Tsagarelli) applied for the tests. In addition, we rated the personality qualities of both groups by the Cattel’s 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire which is the most popular personality qualities testing questionnaire today. As provided by Cattel, a personality may be viewed as a combination of stable and interrelated qualities that determine its nature and behaviour. Significance of the differences in the successful versus unsuccessful group test data arrays were rated using the Student t-criterion, with the data being statistically processed by the standard Microsoft Excel (2007) toolkit.

Study results and discussion. The successful versus unsuccessful group test data and comparisons are given in Table 1 hereunder.

Table 1. Successful versus unsuccessful group test data and comparisons

Tested qualities




Significance rate (p)

Affective tolerance





Stress tolerance in extreme situations









Personality qualities

  • Self-control (Q3 factor)
  • High/low super-ego (G factor)
  • Dominance/ conformity (E factor)




















Note: ***significance rate is p≤0.001; ** significance rate is p≤0.01; * significance rate is p≤0.05.

The above data show that the successful athletes are generally tested with the higher affective tolerance rates as manifested by the high controllability of their emotional responses in competitive periods so as to maintain good self-control and mental performance standards, particularly in stressful moments. Furthermore, the above data show the difference in the stress tolerance rates under pressure, with the successful athletes demonstrating the higher stress tolerance with the ability to advance to the competitive goals in the error-free and well-timed manner – versus the provisionally unsuccessful athletes who are more vulnerable to physical, emotional and intellectual stressors and less capable of maintaining a good working ability (p≤0.01).

Furthermore, the above data analysis shows the significant differences in the personality qualities of the successful versus unsuccessful groups, with the successful group tested with higher self-control as a basis for growing determination, volitional qualities, leadership qualities, ability to perform as required by the plan, emotional response and behavioural control for success; whilst the unsuccessful athletes are more prone to act in a wayward manner in conflict with the teamwork/ social group goals, and less disciplined, attentive and accurate (p≤0.01 for Q3 factor). Having analyzed the group-specific personality qualities, we found the successful group being more emotionally disciplined and focused in the competitive process, abiding by the relevant moral standards and rules; and more determined in the goal attaining process. To put it in other words, the high ego in the successful group contributes to strong character, responsibility, determination and stress tolerance building process. The unsuccessful group was found less self-disciplined i.e. inclined to rank their own wishes above the commonly accepted behavioural standards and, hence, negligent to their responsibilities and even excusing the negligence by the situations and misfortunes. They tend to be more irresponsible, disordered and, consequently, less trusted by the surrounding people (p≤0.01 for G factor). In the dominance/ conformity rating survey, the successful athletes were rated more self-reliant, independent and confident in their communication; inclined to some aggression in the competitive situations; and may even come into conflict when their progress and accomplishments are underestimated or ignored. The unsuccessful group was found more prone to conformity in communication, dependent, passive and compliant, and easily imbalanced by an authoritative management impact (p≤0.01 for the E factor).

Conclusion. Successful academic athletes were tested ready to fully mobilize for the competitive success and highly tolerant to the internal resistance and external barriers for success. They tend to act in a prudent and insistent manner; show high self-control, business planning and completion skills acting as required by the plan; high stress tolerance in extreme situations; and high emotional controllability; being reasonably critical of their own progress, responsible and aware of their own duties at the same time.

The unsuccessful academic athletes were tested less prone to leadership in a group or surrounding being predisposed to conformity and, hence, prepared to agree with others’ opinions and even change their own viewpoints. This is the reason why they are exposed to overstresses in the individual responsibility-taking situations and poorly prepared to cope with the barriers on the way to success.

The study data and analysis show the need for the sport selection process being put on a more efficient basis for the coaches to select only those athletes who are tested with high stress tolerance rates under pressure, good affective tolerance and due communicative and self-control personality qualities. 


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  2. Katunin A. P. Stressoustoychivost kak psikhologicheskiy fenomen [Stress tolerance as a psychological phenomenon]. Molodoy ucheny, 2012, no. 9, pp. 243-246.
  3. Pashintsev V.G. Fizicheskaya podgotovka kvalifitsirovannykh dzyudoistov k glavnomu sorevnovaniyu goda [Physical training of skilled judokas for major competition of the year]. Moscow: Sport publ., 2016. 208 p.
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  5. Ljdokova G.M., Razzhivin O.A., Volkova K.R. Confounding factors in sport activities of powerlifters. Life Science Journal, 2014, no. 11 (8s). pp. 410-413.

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In the selection process, every coach gives a high priority to the athlete’s personality qualities plus a variety of mental fitness aspects including affective tolerance and stress-tolerance rates. These competitive success factors were rated by the Cattel’s 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire and computerized Activatiometer AC-9K Test System. Objective of the study was to profile the university athletes’ personality qualities versus their competitive success rates. Subject to the tests and analyses under the study were personality qualities, affective tolerance and stress-tolerance rates of the 19-21 year-old students (n=60). The study data and analyses showed that the successful university competitors are tested with higher affective tolerance rates; high working capacity maintenance abilities; higher stress-tolerance rates; and high self-control and self-confidence rates. Most of them demonstrate high self-esteem, ambitions and insistence in a variety of competitive situations; versus the unsuccessful university athletes who tend to explain their failures by the process mismanagement factors and misfortunes.