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The broad purpose of this study was to examine the psychological

characteristics of competitive female gymnasts. More specifically, this study was

designed to determine if there are psychological differences between elite and non-elite

level gymnasts.

Method

Participants

The general population consisted of female competitive gymnasts, 10 to 28

years of age, drawn from 17 gymnastics clubs. Initially, 18 clubs agreed to participate,

however, the surveys from one club were never received, resulting in a 94.44% return.

The clubs asked to participate were derived from an invitational mailing list of clubs

competing within the USAG level format. This not only allowed for a broad sample of

clubs but it provided consistency among the clubs in differentiating among levels of

gymnasts. A purposive sampling technique was used in selecting clubs for obtaining

subjects. The basis for club selection was three-fold: (a) gymnastics clubs with several

levels of competitive gymnasts, (b) established clubs that had at least 10 gymnasts

training at levels seven through elite, and (c) at least one club from each region of the

country. Please refer to Table I for a summary of the respondents.

Participating in this study were the five highest levels of gymnasts based on

criteria established by USAG, the national governing body for gymnastics. Level 11 is

comprised of gymnasts ranked as “elite”. This is the highest level of competitive

gymnastics and is the group from which the teams are selected to represent the USA in

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