Italy was one of the most impacted countries by the COVID-19 crisis, with detrimental effects on the world of sports . In this exploratory study, we examined Italian athletes ’ perceived stress and functional/dysfunctional psychobiosocial states during the COVID-19 crisis, comparing current assessment scores with data collected prior to the pandemic . Differences by gender, sport (i.e., individual vs team sport), and competitive level (elite/expert vs novice athletes) were also examined . The perceived stress scale and the psychobiosocial states scale were administered to 1132 competitive athletes about one month after the beginning of Italian lockdown . The comparison between the data collected during COVID-19 with the data collected before the pandemic outbreak revealed highly significant differences with medium to large effects sizes . Findings suggest that the COVID-19 crisis increased athletes ’ perceived stress and dysfunctional psychobiosocial states, while decreased functional psychobiosocial states . Analysis of variance revealed significant differences by gender on perceived stress and both types of psychobiosocial states, as well as by competitive level on perceived stress and functional psychobiosocial states . Specifically, women reported higher perceived stress and dysfunctional psychobiosocial states scores than men, and lower functional psychobiosocial states scores . Elite/expert athletes reported lower perceived stress and higher functional psychobiosocial states scores than novice athletes . From a practical point of view, training regimens and healthy behaviours during pandemic crises should be introduced as standard habits for health and well-being . The application of specific well-being protocols for women and novice athletes should be encouraged.