Coaches’ perspective on team resilience during major international competition

Jolan Kegelaers1, Paul Wylleman1,2, Suzan Blijlevensa2,3, Arjen Boonstoppel2 and Maurits Hendriks2

1 Vrije Universiteit, Brussel, Belgium.
2 NOC*NSF, Netherlands.
2 Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Netherlands.

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 characterized 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 focusing on learning from experiences, anticipating setbacks, and the use of planned disruptions.

KEYWORDS: adversity, elite sports, planned disruptions, positive adaptation, team cognition.