Leeds Beckett University
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Psychological well-being among members of sport organizations

posted on 2023-12-19, 14:21 authored by Richard SimpsonRichard Simpson
Competitive sport represents a cauldron full of experiences that shape how performers feel, function, and adapt to their organizational sport environment. Governmental white papers have recognized the need to redefine what success looks like for athletes, coaches, and support staff. Indeed, ‘performers’ can experience a range of organizational stressors that can incur severe health (e.g., burnout) and performance (e.g., expectations) consequences. Little is known, however, about how performers can individually or collectively experience a ‘good life’ in sport. This epitomised the significance of psychological well-being (PWB), a subject that eludes definition, conceptualization, and application among scientist-practitioners. These conundrums justified the need for a deeper understanding of PWB among sport performers; spotlighting the individual, interpersonal, and organizational leadership experiences. The purpose of this doctoral thesis was to advance understanding of how PWB is perceived, experienced, protected, and facilitated among members of sport organizations. Chapter one foregrounded the terminology, rationale, and aims that underpinned the thesis. Chapter two presented the first systematic review of organizational stress and well-being in competitive sport. This review of 57 included studies critically identified that PWB is underexamined, prone to monism (e.g., focuses on hedonia), and that interpersonal understandings of PWB were a worthwhile focus. Chapter three highlighted the methodology for the remainder of the thesis, including philosophical assumptions, narrative analysis, and reflexivity. Chapter four offered a novel understanding of PWB among three coach-athlete-sport psychology practitioner triads. Both individual and novel triadic interview methods spotlighted PWB among athletes (n=3), coaches (n=3), and sport psychology practitioners (n=3). Reflexive thematic analyses illuminated the dynamic nature of intraindividual and interpersonal PWB. Themes relating to intraindividual PWB denoted nine antecedents (e.g., recharging and recovering away from sport, novel and inevitable experiences, close dyadic sport relationships) and three cyclical factors (without discomfort, fear, or judgement; grasping and navigating stress-related growth, and interpersonal characteristics). Turning to interpersonal PWB, four antecedents (e.g., new and uncertain territory, navigating change and withstanding pressure), three transfer mechanisms (interpersonal coping, emotional contagion, and social appraisal), and three cyclical factors (trust and let’s do our thing, meaningful experiences of growth, and relational dynamics) were constructed. This chapter emphasised the need to move toward perspectives of PWB within close sport relationships. Chapter Five, thus, examined how PWB was experienced and subsequently supported by 15 performance leaders and managers [PLMs]. Two interviews and four weekly audio-recorded diaries per participant explored longitudinal experiences of PWB. Thematic narrative analyses showcased the precarious nature of the role and its impact on self-care experiences. Indeed, PLMs often went ‘above and beyond’ through high challenge-support leadership, but at the expense of their own PWB experiences. This chapter centralized vertical and horizontal relationships, and the need to understand how personal needs are negotiated alongside the needs of others. Chapter six provided a deeper discussion on the study chapters, their contributions to theory and research, and broader implications for research and practice. Followed by thesis strengths and limitations, future research directions, and concluding remarks. This thesis advances conceptual, methodological, and applied understanding of how PWB is perceived, experienced, and supported among members of sport organizations. Original contributions to organizational sport psychology are offered pertaining to how PWB can be understood through individual and interpersonal lenses, and how the support of PWB is relationally negotiated with individual PWB. It is integral that governing bodies and decision-makers thoroughly consider the needs of the ‘performer,’ harness the power of vertical and horizontal mentoring initiatives and empower their PLMs to facilitate a ‘trickle-down effect’ of PWB among members of sport organizations.


Qualification name

  • PhD


Didymus, Faye F ; Williams, Toni L

Awarding Institution

Leeds Beckett University

Completion Date


Qualification level

  • Doctoral


  • eng


Leeds Beckett University

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