Coaches’ Perspective on team resilience during major international competition

Jolan Kegelaers *, Paul Wylleman */**, Suzan Blijlevens */**/***, Arjen Boonstoppel * and Maurits Hendriks **

(*) Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
(**) NOC*NSF, Srnkeim. The Netherands
(***) Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. The Nethelands


Kegelaers, J., Wylleman, P., Blijlevens, S., Boonstoppel, A., Hendriks, M. (2020). Coaches’ Perspective on team resilience during major international competition. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 51(3), 221-246. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2020.51.221


Competing in major international competition has the potential to be a highly stressful activity. In order to understand how elite level teams are able to withstand this stress, the present study explored national team head coaches’ experiences of team resilience. More specifically, it was aimed at (a) identifying team level resilient qualities and vulnerabilities; and (b) exploring how coaches might develop team resilience in preparation for international competition. To this end, semi-structured interviews with three national team head coaches were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Results indicate that team resilience during competition can be characterised by a collective resilient attitude and strong and shared leadership, whilst avoiding breakdowns in communication, failing leadership, and the inability to adapt flexibly. Furthermore, coaches should strategically develop resilience by focussing on learning from experiences, anticipating setbacks, and the use of planned disruptions.

Keywords: Adversity, Elite sports, Planned disruptions, Positive adaptation, Team cognition