Authors: Reeti Douglas, Neha Tripathi, Ashley Allen, Cait Ennis, Jessica Judy, Emily Klink, and Jenelle Mrugalski7
Department of Occupational Therapy, Wingate University, Wingate, NC, USA
Reeti Douglas, OTD, OTR/L
Department of Occupational Therapy
220 N Camden St
Wingate, NC 28174
Reeti Douglas OTD, OTR/L is an Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy at Wingate in Wingate, NC. Her research interests focus on pediatric and youth sports rehabilitation, pediatric and youth athlete mental health, and pediatric and adolescent hand rehabilitation.
Ashley Allen, Cait Ennis, Jessica Judy, Emily Klink, and Jenelle Mrugalski are doctoral students in the Occupational Therapy program at Wingate University. Their research interests include pediatrics, mental health, and sports rehabilitation.
Psychosocial Impact of COVID-19 on Female Youth Cheerleaders
Purpose: As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, national restrictions were implemented limiting social gatherings and disrupting many facets of everyday life including sports. To gain a better understanding of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the social and emotional wellbeing of children and adolescents in sports, the present study examined parental perspectives of female youth competitive cheerleaders during the national pandemic.
Methods: A sample of 97 parents of female youth competitive cheerleaders completed an online Qualtrics survey investigating their perspectives on the psychosocial wellbeing of their children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Results: Descriptive statistics were used for the quantitative analysis to determine general findings from the survey results. Results revealed that all age groups (5-18 years old) reported high levels of frustration (≥63.7%), all hours of training (1-14 hours a week) reported high levels of frustration (≥63.1%), and all levels of cheer (Level 1-6) reported high levels of frustration (≥62.9%). All age groups (≥67.1%), all hours of training (≥60.1), and levels 2-5 of cheer (≥ 57.1) reported high levels of feelings of loneliness during the pandemic. For all age groups, an increased interest in watching television or playing video games was reported as high (≥66.6%). Parents of level 2-6 cheerleaders (≥57.1) and cheerleaders who trained 5-14 hours a week (≥ 57.9) reported high levels of restlessness without participating in cheer activities.
Conclusions: Findings suggest that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, female youth competitive cheerleaders experienced high levels of frustration, loneliness, and restlessness and spent more time engaging in sedentary activities rather than participating in active sports-related functions and practices.
Applications in Sports: This study found that the impacts of COVID-19 on the psychosocial wellbeing of youth athletes include increased levels of frustration, loneliness, and restlessness, which can be attributed to decreased participation in sports. The findings of this study provide data to support the importance of addressing psychosocial needs with female youth athletes and addressing the benefits of sports for leisure occupation and social participation. Implications of this study can be applied to healthcare professions and athletic departments to guide future research and programs regarding sports and youth.(more…)