Psychological disturbances’ prevalence in high-performance Spanish sportsmen

Josep Marí Cortés

Guillermo Pérez

Original Language

Cite this article

Marí Cortés, J., & Pérez Recio, G. (1997). Psychological disturbances' prevalence in high-performance Spanish sportsmen. Apunts. Educación Física y Deportes, 50, 58-63.



The article compares the prevalence of psychopathologys in a sample of 1376 elite Spanish athletes with the incidence of the Sallie psychological disorders in the general population. To explain the prevalence found in the sample of the athletes, three hypothesis are suggested and analysed (self selection, the favourable psy¬chological effect of the practice of physical activity and the generalisation to personal conflicts of coping patterns that have previously proved effective to solve conflicts in the field of sport). Finally we show the results of the follow-up of the performance and the continuity in sports practice in athletes affected by some disorder. Although the incidence of psychological disorders in our sample of athletes is lower as in the sample corresponding to the general population, the psychopathologys most prevalent amongst the collective of sportsmen are shown to be eating disorders, sleep disorders and adaptive disorders. The hypothesis most consistent with the results of the study seems to be the third one, related to the generalisation of coping patterns. In relation to the follow-up of athletes affected by some disorders, 75% of these continued practising sport, and only in one case, of the 30 included in that percentage, a clear interference in performance ascri¬bable to the disorder is observed. Finally, we discuss the implications of these results for popular prejudices in relation to harmful effects of the practice of elite sport.

ISSN: 2014-0983

Published: October 01, 1997