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Title: Stress and coping : a study of elite sports coaches
Author: Olusoga, Peter
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2012
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Abstract:
This thesis provided an in-depth investigation into the phenomenon of stress within the unique culture of elite sports coaching. The overall aim of this thesis, and the series of studies contained herein, was to bridge the gap between research and practice by providing practical recommendations for sport organisations and sport psychology practitioners, informing coach education and development programmes, and developing an intervention aimed at helping coaches on the pathway to elite sport to develop psychological skills and attributes to help them coach effectively under pressure. The aim of the first phase of the research programme (studies one and two) was to provide an in-depth examination of elite coaches' experiences of stress. Specifically, using interviews with ] 2 world class sports coaches as the method of data collection, study one identified a wide range of organisational and competitive stressors. Findings suggested that these stressors were often experienced in combination rather than in isolation, and conflict within the organisation emerged as a key theme, indicating that communication skills might be important in helping coaches function effectively as part of a wider organisational team. Study two explored the same 12 coaches' responses to stressors, the perceived effects of experiencing stress, and the coping strategies coaches employed. Coaches discussed psychological reactions (e.g., negative cognitions, emotional responses), and suggested that their negative responses to stress could be projected onto their athletes. Coaches described a limited use of psychological skills to cope with stressors and tended to avoid stressors that provoked strain responses. Taken together, the findings of studies one and two highlighted the need for coaches to be aware of the demands that elite coaching might impose, and have a range of skills and strategies to help them manage these diverse demands. The aim of the second phase of the research programme (studies three and four) was to bridge the gap between research and practice. Specifically, the purpose of study three was to investigate successful coaches' perceptions of the factors that enable them to coach in a stressful Olympic environment. Data collection took the form of interviews with eight Olympic coaches from one of Great Britain's most successful Olympic teams (based on medal success). Psychological attributes (e.g., emotional control), preparation, (e.g., strategic approach), and coping at the event (e.g., team support), were factors that coaches perceived as important for successful Olympic coaching. Additionally, coaches offered specific suggestions for the training and development of those on the development pathway to elite sports coaching. The final study described the design, implementation and evaluation of a 'Coaching under Pressure' mental skills training (MST) intervention for sports coaches. While statistical significance was only observed for a small number of the observed variables, the practical significance of the intervention for coaches was underlined in the study. Specifically, coaches indicated that they understood the importance of being mentally prepared for the demands of coaching, that the programme was useful for them, that they had been satisfied with the MST programme, and, importantly, that they had experienced positive changes in their coaching performance as a result of the intervention. From a theoretical perspective, the findings of this thesis provided support for the complex nature of the stress transaction and have highlighted important considerations for the study of stress in coaching populations. From a practical perspective, sport organisations should be aware of the stressors that coaches can experience and ensure that coaches have the opportunity to interact and share best practice with their colleagues, and have access to psychological skills training at all stages of their careers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.575868  DOI: Not available
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