Preparing Our Greatest Team: Factors Affecting the Design and Delivery of an Olympic Games Preparation Camp

Rachel Arnold, Bath University, United Kingdom
David Fletcher, Loughborough University, United Kingdom

Theme: Elite performance

Poster Number: 17

Program ID: POS-1

Presentation: October 3, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


The Olympic Games are often considered to be the pinnacle of an athlete’s sporting career. To optimally prepare for the Games, many nations hold a preparation camp to allow athletes to focus on their final training sessions and acclimatize to the time zone, climate, and culture of a multi-sport Olympic environment. Given the salience of these camps in Olympic preparation it is somewhat surprising that, to date, no research has been conducted on what makes an Olympic preparation camp effective. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to identify significant factors that affect the design and delivery of an Olympic preparation camp and develop an operational model to portray the findings. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight members of a nation’s London 2012 Olympic preparation camp delivery team (e.g., camp director, head of hospitality, camp coordinator) and two athletes who had participated in recent Olympic preparation camps. The results reveal four general dimensions which are perceived to affect the design and delivery of an Olympic preparation camp. These are: planning (e.g., arrangements prior to camp delivery), operations (e.g., the management of logistics at camp), preparation camp environment (e.g., the creation of an appropriate culture for the duration of the camp), and organizational factors (e.g., the organizational characteristics and structure of the camp to enable its delivery). The operational model depicts the interactional nature of these dimensions, their chronological ordering, and the personnel associated with each. Overall, this study illustrates the complex and multifaceted nature of Olympic preparation camps and, based on the operational model and emergent dimensions, provides a number of evidence-based recommendations. These recommendations are intended for individuals tasked with designing and working at Olympic preparation camps, who wish to provide an optimal environment that enables the advancement of an athlete’s physical and mental well-being and, ultimately, sporting success.

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