Portsmouth university study looks at elite sport athletes

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NEW research has looked at why thriving in elite sports is more complicated than it appears.

The study by Dr Daniel Brown, a sports scientist at the University of Portsmouth, identified internal and external factors which contribute to a sportsman or woman being – and feeling – outstanding.

In a small-scale study examining the views of athletes, coaches and sports psychologists in elite sport the researchers, including those at the University of Bath, found 16 personal and external factors which promoted thriving.

Dr Brown said: ‘Doing your best as a sportsman or woman sounds simple, but we’ve found a complex mix of factors which promote thriving and could help those working at elite level.

‘Enablers such as support, self-belief, and an appreciation of, trust in and commitment to the process of development combine to help some make it all the way to the top of elite sport and, critically, to enjoy it.

‘The results could also help explain why some individuals gifted at sport don’t thrive at elite level.

‘Increasingly in high-level sport we are hearing stories of those who achieve high-level performance, but at the expense of their well-being.’

Dr Brown’s research found elite athletes felt having the desire and motivation to do well and setting challenging goals were the key factors enabling them to thrive at the highest level.