Sports performers’ perspectives on facilitating thriving in professional rugby contexts

Daniel J. Brown, Rachel Arnold

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Objectives - The desire and apparent ‘need’ to succeed can drive a win-at-all-costs mentality in individuals who operate in sport. This approach has given rise to environments where the pursuit of high-level performance has been at the expense of athlete welfare. To redress this balance and to inform the creation and maintenance of sporting environments that promote both high performance and athlete well-being, we sought to (i) provide an exploration of the environmental factors that may promote player thriving in professional sport, and (ii) offer suggestions for how key stakeholders can support these mechanisms.

Design - A qualitative research methodology underpinned by ontological relativism and epistemological constructionism.

Method - Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 players from an English professional rugby union club.

Results - Thematic analysis generated thirteen factors that players perceived to promote thriving. These factors were underpinned by two general ideas: (i) Establishing Bonds between Teammates and (ii) Establishing a Connection to the Coaching Staff and the Club.

Conclusions - The findings provide the first insight into the type of environment professional rugby players believe can facilitate their development and sporting success. The factors generated in the analysis highlight the players’ desire to operate within an integrated, inclusive, and trusting environment, and a variety of suggestions are forwarded for how this can be achieved. To promote thriving in a professional sport that requires emotion and passion to succeed on the pitch, it appears that rugby union organizations must appeal to the sensitivities and welfare of players’ off it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-81
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Early online date29 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


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