Sports participation, self-esteem and physical self-concept in female adolescent equestrian athletes

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis


With over 75% of the population of equestrian athletes being female and 25% are under 16 years old suggesting it could offer a facilitative environment for adolescent psychosocial development. Self-esteem fluctuates during adolescence and other sports train coaches to have a positive impact on athlete self-esteem during adolescent years. Equestrian sport lacks in knowledge of the psychosocial development related to the sport despite research suggesting equine facilitated psychotherapies result in self-esteem enhancement and as such cannot implement effective coach training or education to improve athlete wellbeing and reduce attrition from the adolescent athletic population. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between sport participation, global self-esteem and physical self-concept in female adolescent equestrian athletes. 239 participants (239 females aged 12-20 years old, 15.96 ± 2.422 years) completed the Physical Self-Description Questionnaire (PSDQ) and a modified version of the Sport Activity Questionnaire, identifying frequency of participation (ridden and within an equestrian environment) and competitive discipline, through an online survey. Seven of the original 11 PSDQ subscales were chosen to be analysed: Physical Activity, Body Fat, Sports Competence, Global Physical Self-concept, Appearance, Flexibility and Global Self-esteem. Global self-esteem and appearance were significantly affected by participant age (H (2) = 7.27, p < .05 and H (2) = 9.58, p < .01 respectively). Physical Activity and Sports Competence were significantly affected by discipline (H (4) = 13.39, p < .05 and H (4) = 13.98, p < .01 respectively). Decreases in self-esteem and appearance around mid-adolescence can be attributed to the onset of puberty, body changes and the importance of physical appearance to adolescent females. Implications of these findings suggest that equestrian sport could act as a contributor to self-esteem in female adolescents and further research should explore the impact of coaching self-esteem and the interaction between competitive discipline and physical self-concept in more depth.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationMaster of Science
Awarding Institution
  • University of the West of England (UWE)
  • Collins, Richard, Supervisor, External person
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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