Elite amateur: Maintaining balance in life during the preparation phase for the Olympic Games

Frank Abrahamsen, Norwegian Olympic Center, Norway

Theme: Elite performance

Program ID: SYM-04

Presentation: October 3, 2013 8:15 am - 9:30 am

Room: Belle Chasse


The Olympic Games requires tremendous training and sacrifice in order to be well-prepared. Extensive travelling to competitions and training camps may put a hold on their personal life. However, many, if not most, Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic athletes are not wholly professionals, meaning that they need to be either a part/full time student or have a part/full time job in addition to their sport preparations. Hence, maintaining a balance in life is difficult, when existential issues such as income, partner and children are put into the equation. This is important for several reason, as for instance Willams (2001) found that 30 out of 35 life stress studies demonstrated a relationship with injury susceptibility. During consultations, several athletes have clearly stated that they feel torn, or as one athlete put it: “I collect my family’s fame and glory, while my spouse collects the income”. Some athletes have also argued that coaches do not understand their position, as the coaches are paid for their job. If these athletes have to work or be home with their kids so their partner can go to work, the athletes feel that the coach and support staff believes that they are not serious enough and do not prioritize their sport enough. The presentation will briefly discuss some of the challenges that Olympic and Paralympic amateur athletes have highlighted regarding their life balance and well-being during consultations and delineate some coping mechanisms they have utilized in these instances. Research regarding athletes’ roles and responsibilities for maintaining life balance is an understudied area, hence some suggestions for research will also be given. The Cognitive Activation Theory of Stress (Ursin & Erikson, 2004) will act as a guideline for maintaining athletes’ life balance and help applied sport psychology consultants design theoretically based interventions.

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