Authors: Margaret Shields1, Andrea Eklund2, and Angelina Williams3
1Department of Health Sciences, Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO, USA
2Department of Family & Consumer Sciences, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA, USA
3Department of Public Health, Charleston Southern University, Charleston, SC, USA
Margaret Shields, PhD, CHES
1000 Rim Drive
Durango, CO 81301
Margaret Shields, PhD, CHES is an Assistant Professor of Health Sciences at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. Her research interests focus on veteran mental health, stress, self-efficacy, and nutrition.
Andrea Eklund, MFA is an Associate Professor of Family and Consumer Sciences at Central Washington University. Her research interests focus on empowerment and body image, sustainable textiles, and innovative fashion design.
Angelina Williams, CHES is a recent graduate in public health from Charleston Southern University. She is currently a family navigator for Americorps in Charleston, SC.
Correlations in self-efficacy and participation in roller derby
Roller derby has been connected with self-confidence in participants; however, little is known about the correlation of increased self-efficacy and roller derby. The purpose of this study was to examine correlation in changes of self-efficacy and participation in roller derby, specific to overall confidence, exercise patterns and body image. This study was a primary data analysis collected from a specially designed self-efficacy survey using the Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire, the Generalized Self-Efficacy Scale, and the Self-efficacy for Exercise Scale. Participants were asked to give demographic and physical information. Self-efficacy was measured through three categories: exercise, appearance and general statements about daily life. Four hundred and twenty-four international participants completed the survey. Descriptive statistics and the Wilcoxon Signed-ranks test were used for the pre- and post-sport data of the participants to assess and compare perceived changes in the individuals. The sample included 412 completed surveys. Participants indicated increased perception of self-efficacy given involvement in roller derby. This included significance in decisions and leadership roles, body image, and exercise. Perceptions of decisions and leadership roles, body image, and exercise routines increased with sport involvement. Participation in roller derby was associated with increased perceived self-efficacy. This is not confined to sport alone but other day-to-day activities that may require similar amounts of resilience, self-perception, and self-reflection. By fostering these feminist beliefs, gender roles, and simultaneously building self-efficacy among women, researchers have noted the higher perception of physical attractiveness, lowered poor body image, and ability to buffer societal pressures. With the vast struggle for improved mental and physical health to curb chronic diseases, it is important to encourage leisure sports and activities such as roller derby. It is vital as a coach or league to urge participants to recognize growth within in the sport, not only while skating but also applying this to career and relationships outside of the sport.
Key Words: Women athletes, leisure-time sport, sport participation, empowerment, college education, interpersonal relationships
Before the 20th century, women were excluded from sports as it was believed the vigorous activity would damage female reproduction, and they would be viewed as masculine and unattractive. This included non-contact sports such as marathon running, swimming, and tennis. By the 1900s, more women were participating in sports with the first women competing in the Paris Olympic games in 1900 competing in tennis, sailing, croquet, equestrian and golf with archery, skating, aquatics and gymnastic being introduced in the subsequent four Olympic games. During this time women’s participation in the Olympics increased from the initial 2.2% to 10% (2018). The Women’s Suffrage Movement further propelled women into sports and women began to form athletic clubs where they could play tennis, croquet and archery (6).
As time went on and women became more involved in sports, women were sexualized and had to prove their heterosexuality (32, 39). Because gender roles played a significant role in how society chose to identify individuals; it was difficult for women to be taken serious in sports or even want to be involved (21). Societal ideals caused many women to self-objectify. This caused women to feel ashamed of their bodies because they did not fit the sociocultural ideals of femininity (16), and experience psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, and was correlated with lowered self-efficacy (16, 17, 39).
Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s own ability to successfully accomplish a task (3). Theorists believed behavior could be explained with a psychodynamic basic, but then in the 1960s a more revolutionary approach was revealed and this techniques perspective on behavior showed that environmental, personal, and behavioral factors were the main ingredients to create actions in others (3). Being efficacious is guided by four simple constructs: mastery experience, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, and emotional state. Lirgg (1992) hypothesized that expectations from these four sources influenced one’s behavior, thought patterns, and emotional reactions (27). This profound way of thinking allowed non-mental health professionals such as teachers, coaches, and peers to address behavioral issues in conventional settings (3).
Research on roller derby overall is limited and research focused on self-efficacy and roller derby is non-existent. There are studies on body image and how participation in roller derby increases skater’s body image (16, 17), that all bodies are valued and have a purpose no matter their shape or size (5, 9, 16, 17, 31), and acceptance of their bodies through roller derby (13, 16, 17). Other roller derby research focuses on unrelated areas of the media (24), resistance (38), femininity, (9, 21, 37), do it yourself ethos (4), “alternative femininity” (34), and the sport related to popular music (33).
The Sport of Roller Derby
Transcontinental Roller Derby was the first form of roller derby pioneered in 1935 by Leo Seltzer in Chicago, IL. Seltzer was charged with creating events that would draw people into the Chicago Coliseum and drew upon the success of past endurance events. This was one of the first sporting events that offered equal opportunities for men and women to compete (15). The events lasted over one month, and teams were fed and housed in the coliseum while nurses oversaw their health throughout the competition (19). The teams skated up to 15 hours each day each taking turns throughout the day. The winners were the team that covered the required distance in the shortest amount of time (30). In 1937 Seltzer changed the rules to include a scoring system and allowed contact between players. The sport developed into a physical competition with pushing and shoving between two teams of five players each with the goal to pass their opponents to score points. Roller derby grew a large following in the 1940’s with more than five million spectators including fan clubs and a newsletter.
The start of World War II in 1941 halted the sports rise and the teams dwindled down to one team that was primarily for entertaining the soldiers. After the war Seltzer started growing the sport creating teams starting in New York. In 1949 roller derby debuted nationally on television, thus introducing the sport into America’s homes and starting the roller derby craze with peaks in the 1960s through the 1970s and dwindling in the 1980s. During this time there were equal numbers of men and women on the teams, with the women skaters drawing in the majority of fans (18). There were attempts to revive the sport in the 1980s and 2000s through television events with no success.
The current version of roller derby was revised in 2001 by a group of women in the United States called “Bad Girl Good Woman.” It was played on a flat track and had a strong focus on music subcultures and alternative feminine identities (32). The group formed four teams and their first bout was played during the summer of 2002 in Austin, Texas. In 2006, there were 160 roller derby leagues worldwide (17). There are currently 1,896 leagues (22), a 1185% increase in 14 years. Its significant to note a league has a minimum of 14 and up to 40 members in it, therefore there are between 27,000 to 79,000 roller derby players internationally.
Within the last decade, roller derby has redefined itself as a sport and become a platform for women to empower themselves by challenging society’s idea of the female form and putting a high value on a large and strong physique (39). Roller derby is now a fast pace contact sport, played in two 30-minute halves divided into two-minute shifts, encouraging identity and individuality among the team.
The purpose of this study was to examine correlation in changes of self-efficacy and participation in roller derby, specific to overall confidence, exercise patterns and body image.
The hypotheses were as follows:
- Participants in roller derby will be significantly more likely to exhibit more self-efficacy through everyday decisions and leadership roles.
- Participants in roller derby will be significantly more likely to exhibit an increase in body image.
- Participants in roller derby will be significantly more likely to exhibit an increase in the confidence to exercise given various environmental and emotional conditions.
Stratified sampling was used for this study. Participants were recruited through sharing the survey through social media with encouragement to share with others. A list of leagues from the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), one of the governing organizations for roller derby leagues, was used to email the survey to leagues. With approximately 400 leagues in the WFTDA, members of 125 leagues responded and were represented.
This study was a primary data analysis collected in the spring of 2017 from a specially designed self-efficacy survey and was approved by the Institutional Review Board of Charleston Southern University (Charleston, South Carolina, United States). The survey comprised; 1) demographics including height and weight, 2) participation in roller derby, 3) self-efficacy through three categories: exercise, appearance and general statements about daily life using the Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire(α=.75-.93) (10), the Generalized Self-Efficacy Scale(α=.76-.90) (36), and the Self-efficacy for Exercise Scale(α=.92) (35).
Participants rated themselves from Agree (5) to Disagree (1) and Very Confident (5) to Not Confident at all (1) on statements pertaining to exercise, appearance, and daily life. They also self-identified from 1-10 how participation in roller derby positively affected various parts of their life like relationships, confidence, and self-image. To conclude the survey, participants were given the opportunity to give qualitative comments on how participation in roller derby has impacted their confidence.
Descriptive statistics and the Wilcoxon Signed-ranks test were used for the pre- and post-sport data of the participants to assess and compare perceived changes in the individuals (41). All surveys met criteria with no inconsistencies and were included in the final analyses. The a priori was set at less than or equal to .05.
The IBM Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 24 for MAC was used to conduct all analysis for the data included in the study (23).
The sample comprised 412 participants (411 females, 1 chose not to answer) ages 18- 56 years (mean 32.63 years +/- SD 7.43). The international sample included participants from such countries as the United States, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Finland, Australia and the Netherlands.
Table 1. Demographic characteristics of participants
|41 years and over||66||15.6%|
|Highest Level of Education|
|Some high school, no diploma||2||0.5%|
|High school diploma or GED||52||12.3%|
|Single, never married||72||17.0%|
|Other (separated or widowed)||5||1.2%|
|Length of Time in Roller Derby (in months)|
|97 or more||28||6.6%|
Hypotheses 1: Decisions and Leadership Roles
Participants completed 23 questions regarding perceptions of decisions and leadership roles before and after participation in roller derby. When analyzed using the Wilcoxon Signed-ranks test, the group of questions as a whole was found to be significant in the perceived improvement self-efficacy in relation to decisions and leadership roles (p ≤ .001) with an initial mean of 3.23 and final mean of 3.60.
Given the overall significance of the group of questions, each question was analyzed in order to determine individual significance. Each of the 23 questions also indicated significance (p ≤ .001).
Table 2. Decision and leadership role results
|I can always manage to solve difficult problems if I tried hard enough.||4.1769||4.4599||<.001||-6.617|
|It is easy for me to stick to my aims and accomplish my goals.||3.4741||4.1682||<.001||-10.665|
|I am confident that I can efficiently with unexpected events.||3.6439||4.3995||<.001||-11.945|
|I can solve most problems if I invest the necessary effort.||4.1749||4.5519||<.001||-8.216|
|I can remain calm when facing difficulties because I can rely on my coping abilities.||3.4823||4.3160||<.001||-11.908|
|When I am confronted with a problem, I can usually find several solutions.||3.8042||4.3514||<.001||-10.483|
|I can usually handle whatever comes my way.||3.7891||4.4151||<.001||-10.736|
|Failure makes me try harder.||2.9692||4.0356||<.001||-12.898|
|I give up on things before completing them.||2.9267||2.0095||<.001||-11.196|
|I feel insecure about my ability to do things.||3.0118||2.1348||<.001||-10.944|
|It is difficult for me to make new friends.||3.3656||2.3901||<.001||-12.345|
|I do not handle myself well in social gatherings.||3.0804||2.3208||<.001||-10.862|
|If someone points out something that I am doing wrong, I can fix my mistake without any issues.||3.2594||3.9953||<.001||-11.356|
|I avoid trying to learn new things when they look too difficult for me.||2.7217||1.7830||<.001||-11.407|
|If I can’t do a job the first time, I keep trying until I can.||3.5248||4.2241||<.001||-10.686|
|When trying something new, I will soon give up if I am not initially successful.||2.7381||1.8137||<.001||-11.681|
|When trying to become friends with someone who seems uninterested at first, I don’t give up easily.||2.1557||2.8113||<.001||-9.962|
|When I decide to do something, I go right to work on it even if it is outside my norm.||3.1087||4.0401||<.001||-12.730|
|When I have something unpleasant to do, I stick to it until it is done.||3.0778||3.9811||<.001||-13.002|
|I am confident I can lead a group if given the task.||3.3877||4.4057||<.001||-12.871|
|I am confident I can make the best decision for a person if given the task.||3.2701||4.0967||<.001||-12.475|
|I am confident that I can continue to exercise even when I do not see noticeable results.||2.6123||4.3278||<.001||-15.438|
|I am confident that I can maintain a diet as a healthy lifestyle.||2.4269||3.7382||<.001||-13.853|
Hypotheses 2: Body Image
Participants completed 8 questions regarding perceptions of body image before and after participation in roller derby. When analyzed using the Wilcoxon Signed-ranks test, the group of questions as a whole was found to be significant in the perceived improvement self-efficacy in relation to body image (p ≤ .001) with an initial mean of 3.18 and final mean of 3.58.
Given the overall significance of the group of questions, each question was analyzed in order to determine individual significance. Six of the 8 questions also indicated significance (p ≤ .001). The two statements that did not indicate statistical significance were “My appearance was/is important to me,” which indicated a p-value of .055, and “Before going out in public, I always notice(d) how I look(ed),” which indicated a p-value of .798.
Table 3. Body image results
|My appearance is important to me.||3.8774||3.7807||.055||-1.923|
|I compare myself to other (wo)men.||4.1321||3.3262||<.001||-10.461|
|My body is appealing.||2.7476||3.7565||<.001||-12.409|
|I like my looks as they are.||2.7429||3.6761||<.001||-11.475|
|Most people consider me good looking.||3.2340||3.6179||<.001||-7.939|
|I like the way my clothes fit me.||2.5236||3.3735||<.001||-9.669|
|Before going out in public, I always notice how I look.||3.6274||3.6038||.798||-.256|
|I do not care what people think about my appearance.||2.5472||3.5366||<.001||-11.661|
Hypotheses 3: Exercise
Participants completed 8 questions regarding perceptions of exercise routines before and after participation in roller derby. When analyzed using the Wilcoxon Signed-ranks test, the group of questions as a whole was found to be significant in the perceived improvement self-efficacy in relation to exercise (p ≤ .001) with an initial mean of 2.20 and final mean of 3.62.
Given the overall significance of the group of questions, each question was analyzed in order to determine individual significance. Each of the 8 questions also indicated significance (p ≤ .001).
Table 4. Exercise results
|The weather is bothering you.||2.5047||4.1981||<.001||-14.573|
|You are bored by the program or activity.||2.0425||3.2877||<.001||-12.534|
|You feel pain when exercising.||2.1509||3.5590||<.001||-13.769|
|You do not enjoy it.||1.9009||3.0425||<.001||-11.867|
|You are busy with other activities.||2.0660||3.4175||<.001||-12.694|
|You feel tired.||2.1722||3.6840||<.001||-13.620|
|You feel stressed.||2.5802||4.0236||<.001||-12.739|
|You feel depressed.||2.2099||3.6147||<.001||-12.286|
The purpose of this study was to examine correlation in changes of self-efficacy and participation in roller derby, specific to overall confidence, exercise patterns and body image. The quantitative statistics along with the qualitative question (n=158) of this study suggest that there is correlation on the perceived increase of self-efficacy of the individual and participation in roller derby.
Hypotheses 1: Decisions and Leadership Roles
Self-efficacy and decision-making have a strong positive correlational relationship. Taylor and Betz (1983) indicated that self-efficacy related more to decision-making than measurable skills (40). This is not confined to sport alone but other day-to-day activities that may require similar amounts of resilience, self-perception, and self-reflection (3). This not only aids in the sport but in career and education as a majority of the athletes in the study are college educated (75.8%). As Betz and Luzzo (1996) state “formulations of self-efficacy theory include the postulate that increase in self-efficacy expectations relative to one domain should generalize to some degree to other domains.” (7) It is not surprising then that participants gave qualitative feedback to their ability to translate self-efficacy skills determined in roller derby to external circumstances including education and career.
Before derby, if I tried an exercise and wasn’t successful (like a class) in doing the moves, I would just quit in fear of looking foolish. With roller derby, I realized the more I fell, the more I learned and got better. It made me take more risks, and it affected my personal life.
I find it easier now to challenge coworkers in discussions about our projects. I was quiet and reserved before roller derby. It may have also helped me get promoted to a managerial role!
Hypotheses 2: Body Image
Eklund and Masberg (2015) stated that roller derby is observed to increase body image in the majority of participants validating the reasoning behind the increase of self-efficacy in everyday decisions and leadership roles, body image, the confidence to exercise given various physical and emotional conditions (16). Roller derby allows women who may not fit into the societal image of womanhood feel empowered and proud of their masculine physique. Roller derby allows women to put their own stamp on feminism, gender roles, and beliefs.
By fostering these feminist beliefs, gender roles, and simultaneously building self-efficacy among women, researchers have noted the higher perception of physical attractiveness, lowered poor body image, and ability to buffer societal pressures (1, 15). Researchers found that self-efficacy has helped to identify variance in perceived body image while boosting sense of self-accomplishment and identifiers of personal capability (26). These factors lend themselves back to the relationship between self-efficacy as a modality of empowerment for mental and physical accomplishment in sport, education, career and personal life.
Bandura (1997) found that while physical skills and ability are significant to the completion of a physical task, having the confidence in one’s abilities to be able to apply those skills in a given situation is essential (3). People with high self-efficacy levels are more likely to pursue demanding goals, handle pain, and push through hurdles, while those with low self-efficacy evade challenges and tend to give up when challenged with obstacles.
Thus, derby provides an alternate system of body evaluation based on how bodies move rather than how they look, thereby allowing skaters to experience their bodies in ways beyond the forms of passive embodiment encouraged by emphasized femininity, even if some attentiveness to physical attractiveness residually remains (9).
By pointing to the diversity of women in roller derby, skaters try to mitigate challenges with better understandings of who can be an athlete (31). Women of all shapes and sizes participate in roller derby. The players physiques on many of the teams range from plump to beanpole and short-statured to giantess. And all use the physical attributes to their advantage (5).
Words cannot express the amount of self-confidence and confidence of others Roller Derby has brought to me. Trusting myself and others and being proud of myself and others is something that I don’t think I could have found without Roller Derby.
I feel more comfortable in my skin even though I have gone through weight fluctuations, by doing derby. It is also a safe place to wear what you want, for instance booty shorts and not get unwanted harassment or criticism. The community is very supportive and being a part of the league has created a sense of belonging for me and has shaped my identity.
By adding to the perception of positive body image among athletes, not only
By adding to the perception of positive body image among athletes, not only in the individual impacted intrapersonally but also interpersonally. Davison and McCabe (2005) explain how increase in self-esteem and body image positively effects interpersonal relationships (14). This indirect correlation of sport and personal life may in-turn positively impact the 74.7% of the participants that are in dating, married, or domestic partnerships.
Hypotheses 3: Exercise
Manipulations of self-efficacy beliefs in women are related to higher positive moods after exercise. Support of the self-efficacy-effect connection has been found in older adults participating in a six-month exercise plan (28). Those who had higher efficacy levels also had higher positive affect scores. From these studies and findings from our participants it indicates that self-efficacy can play a role in improving the positive emotional experiences linked with participating in physical activity through exercise.
Though I’m only in a recreational league, I feel like an athlete, something I’ve never imagined before. I’ve also gotten involved in two other non-standard sports-parkour and circus.
Roller derby has actually motivated me to exercise for probably the first time ever, so it naturally has an impact on my body image, but I was already pretty good at self-esteem in other aspects of my life.
I am new to derby. Knowing that people outside of roller derby assume I am strong/tough/dedicated/etc. Makes me feel confident. Being with derby girls and more talented roller skaters humbles me, and although I am less skilled, I am optimistic I can be at their level eventually.
In addition to the three hypotheses it was found through the qualitative responses that many participants had improved mental health through participating in roller derby. Anxiety, mental illness, depression, stress, eating disorders and anger issues were all mentioned multiple times. Researchers find that various types and levels of physical activity have a positive relationship on self-efficacy, which in turn positively effects mental health status (28). Through the reciprocal relationship of self-efficacy and league social support (8), participants have noted increased constructive coping strategies through qualitative responses.
As a person with an eating disorder I really find derby to be a great antidepressant and reduces anxiety.
It has tremendously impacted my confidence for the good. I am learning to control my emotions under extreme stress mentally and physically. It has helped me face my fears head on.
It has tremendously impacted my confidence for the good. I am learning to control my emotions under extreme stress mentally and physically. It has helped me face my fears head on.
Originally, many thought that women would distance themselves from sports or activities that involved threat of injury or extreme physicality (29). However, the constructs of Self-Efficacy Theory indicate increase of confidence through mastery experience and vicarious experience (3),which are observed in roller derby to lead to a higher likelihood to exhibit self-efficacy through everyday decisions and leadership roles, an increase in body image, and an increase in the confidence to exercise given various physical and emotional conditions.
Self-efficacy states that a person is willing to try anything if they feel they can successfully complete the task. This study shows that participation in roller derby is correlated with increase one’s self-efficacy when making every day decisions or in leadership roles, their body image, and their confidence to exercise when given certain conditions. Roller derby also allows women to steer away from society’s idea of gender roles and behavior. This research along with other studies show the sport of roller derby has made tremendous strides for women and will continue to be a platform for women to grow.
Future research on roller derby and self-efficacy should focus on skaters of different backgrounds, education, gender, and age. In particular interest would be focusing on diverse populations, which roller derby does encompass. Significant contributions to the knowledge of self-efficacy should focus on longitudinal studies over time and what influences the increase or decrease over a long time period. The majority of current literature focuses on self-efficacy beliefs at one time with a few studies that include two points of time.
APPLICATIONS IN SPORT
With the vast struggle for improved mental and physical health to curb chronic diseases, it is important to encourage leisure sports and activities such as roller derby. It is vital as a coach or league to urge participants to recognize growth within in the sport, not only while skating but also applying this to career and relationships outside of the sport.
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