“You don’t get resilience overnight”: a grounded theory framework of the A-R-C sporting resilience development

Sahen Gupta, Paul J. Mccarthy

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Resilience in sport is growing as a topic of investigation but comparatively less focus is placed on how resilience develops in athletes. This study explored sporting resilience development in elite athletes over time using grounded theory. Participants included 10 competitive-elite athletes (5 men and women) who scored high, competing in individual/team sports from diverse cultural contexts. Experiential life-story interviews on sporting resilience development over time was conducted. Grounded theory was employed across ideation, data collection and analysis with structured methodological quality criteria to ensure rigour. Findings are synthesised into A-R-C Development Model of sporting resilience indicating that antecedent protective factors (A) enable the engine of sporting resilience (R) which through metacognition-emotion-behaviour produces consequences (C) of positive adaptation or critical adaptation failure. The emergent theory is the first comprehensive outline providing an understanding of how sporting resilience develops over time in competitive-elite athletes. Implications for developing athlete resilience for performance and mental health are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number72
Number of pages15
JournalDiscover Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2024


  • Sporting resilience
  • Elite athlete
  • Antecedents
  • Consequences
  • Sport psychology

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