The Development of Hardiness in Elite Coaches
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Research has recently outlined the significant increase in the amount and type of demands that are placed on coaches (e.g., Fletcher & Scott, 2010). Importantly, without sufficient coping mechanisms coaches are likely to be negatively affected by these demands, reducing their overall effectiveness. Hardiness has been suggested to be a stress buffering characteristic helping performers cope with the demands that they are placed under. However, the way in which hardiness is developed has not been examined in sports coaching populations. This study, therefore, sought to assess and examine how hardiness is developed among elite level sports coaches. Following a rigorous sampling procedure, national/international sports coaches (n = 6), all deemed to be high in hardiness, were selected to participate in semi-structured qualitative interviews in order to assess how they believed they had developed their high hardiness levels. The findings identified that experiences (significant experiences and exposure to demands), external support (social support and significant others) and transformational coping strategies (goal setting, reflective practice and preparation and planning) were all instrumental in influencing the development of hardiness among elite sports coaches. The implications of these findings are that through the sufficient use and utilisation of the themes identified, coaches that struggle to cope with the demands of elite sport, and coaches whom wish to make a successful transition from non-elite to elite level sport, may benefit by firstly increasing their hardiness levels, and as a consequence, also enhance their ability to cope with the stressful nature of elite sport. Limitations and future research directions are discussed.
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