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    Psychological predictors of adolescent depression and anxiety symptoms across one season in grassroots netball

    Davies, Lucy ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6162-6862, Turner, Martin ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1975-5561, Hopley, Rachel, Slater, Matthew and Braithwaite, Elizabeth ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4902-2262 (2023) Psychological predictors of adolescent depression and anxiety symptoms across one season in grassroots netball. Mental Health Science, 1 (4). pp. 250-260. ISSN 2642-3588

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    Much of our knowledge about the relationship between psychological variables related to sport and adolescent mental health is based on research from elite athletes. However, the vast majority of adolescents who engage in sports do so at the grassroots level. We therefore sought to understand how self-reported psychological variables and sleep may be associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety across one season in grassroots adolescent netball. We collected self-report, paper-based questionnaire data from adolescent netball players at one large netball club based in the West Midlands of the United Kingdom at the start of the season (timepoint 1, September 2018, N = 140) and end of the season (timepoint 2, March 2019, N = 132). Ages ranged from 11 to 19 (M = 13.54), which were categorized as under 14s (U14, ages 11–14) and under 19s (U19, ages 15–19). Participants self-reported symptoms of depression and anxiety, basic psychological needs related to netball, demands and resources related to netball, and sleep quality at each time point. We used standardized residual change scores to test whether changes in the psychological variables related to their engagement in grassroots netball (basic psychological needs, demands and resources) and sleep quality were associated with changes in depression and anxiety symptoms over time. We report that increases in perceived sporting demands and reductions in sleep quality were associated with elevated symptoms of depression over the season. Reductions in perceptions of autonomy were associated with increases in symptoms of anxiety. We report novel evidence that self-reported, malleable psychological variables related to sports participation, and sleep quality, are associated with mental health in youth female athletes competing at the grassroots level. It would be worthwhile to explore whether mental health interventions and/or education delivered via grassroots sports clubs may be an effective method for promoting mental health resilience in adolescent athletes.

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