Transfer of mental toughness from international elite triathlon to business top executive coaching in Germany
: an exploratory study

  • Michael Bannwolf

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis concerns the transfer of Mental Toughness from elite triathlon coaching to top executive coaching in Germany. It analyses how experienced coaches from both contexts understand the concept of Mental Toughness and their views about the ways and the extent to which Mental Toughness may be applicable in German executive coaching. This study is important because it investigates the relevance of Mental Toughness, which is an eminent concept in sports coaching, in an executive coaching context where it has never been subject to empirical research. The value to the research field of executive coaching is that Mental Toughness might offer new ways of understanding how coaching can help with translating goals into action. In addition, practitioners could profit from applying Mental Toughness in improving the client’s ability to withstand better hindrances and challenges, which is one central claim of mental toughness as it is interpreted in the sports literature.
The research design for this study is qualitative. Data from 22 interviews with international elite triathlon coaches and German top executive coaches in a one moment-in-time sampling approach are used to answer the research questions. The findings and analysis reveal that mental toughness can be relevant and valuable in the coaching of German top executives as an important supplement to existing coaching processes. Findings suggest that mental toughness, as a feature of coaching, can build awareness and sensitivity to issues of long-term persistence. The study advances executive coaching theory and practice and shows how Mental Toughness could be integrated into executive coaching theory in its focus on goal pursuit persistence energy.
Date of AwardJan 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJames McCalman (Supervisor) & Valerie Anne Anderson (Supervisor)

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