Scientific Lecture

Congress of Sports Psychology, Warsaw, Poland

Motivation - team dynamics - leadership. A case study on organizational development in high performance sport


How would you coach a national team to improve athlete’s motivation and performance? What tools & strategies would you use? Of course it all depends on the context. This session shows that sometimes a broader approach may be more successful than just coaching the athletes. But what does it mean to broaden the perspective?

Motivational speeches are in fashion and frequently booked by companies and sports teams. Many "Motivation experts" swear by the eternally same slogans and the feasibility delusion of "positive thinking". This has rarely sustained positive impact and may even lead to frustration, doubt and burnout. Pithy sayings like "If you really want, you can achieve everything" are commonplace, but unhelpful, because they deny reality and roll off the responsibility to the individual, without taking into account the organizational framework.

This lecture presents a coaching process with a national team, lasting about three months. The initial aim of the national coach and the reason to contact a sport psychologist was to increase the motivation (and performance) of the team players in order to qualify for the European Championships. But during the contracting the original focus was rapidly shifting away from simple "motivation training" to a more complex organizational development of the national team system, including the major stakeholders in the development process. In addition, for the first time the feedback and assessment instrument SYMLOG, which is successfully used in work and organizational psychology (but so far not in sport psychology), was applied to coach the coach.

In sum, by broadening the perspective we got access to topics that first didn’t seem relevant to improve the athlete’s motivation, but finally demonstrated to be crucial, such as the communication within the coaching staff, the interface management, leadership and self-management of the national coach.

If you show up in this lecture I will also tell you if they finally made it.

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Would you like to learn more about how you can put this know-how into practice in a profitable way? Nice. Dr. Michele Ufer is happy to help.

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