Sport Psychology Consultancy: Experiences of the 2012 London Olympic Games

Joanne Butt, Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom

Theme: Consulting/private practice

Program ID: LEC-06C

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

Room: Magnolia


This presentation will focus on the experience of one sport psychologist’s work with the Great Britain Women’s Volleyball team at the London Olympic Games. The consultant’s work began with the team three years prior to the Games and was delivered as part of multidisciplinary scientific support service. The presentation will focus on the nature and range of sport psychology services provided to the team and coaches prior to and during the event. Early preparations focused on developing each individual’s mental skills followed by team development and creating an optimal training environment. Team development (i.e., cornerstones to functioning as a high-performance team) was crucial because players played their volleyball with professional clubs across Europe and the USA -- returning only for four months of the year. There were key issues to consider including preparing to compete in a Home Olympic Games and perceived pressures, the timing of selection and its impact on team unity, and transferring our training environment to the Olympic venue. In terms of Olympic experience, all players were "first-timers", and in keeping with existing knowledge highlighting the uniqueness of the Olympic Games and that they are "like no other competition" (e.g., Greenleaf, Gould, & Dieffenbach, 2001), strategies to prepare for being in the environment were an important aspect of consultancy. The presentation will address some consultant issues such as on-site support and access into the Olympic Village, and how the delivery of services changed from warm-up competitions, preparation camp, through to the Games themselves. The team experienced high’s and low’s during the ten-day competition cycle but performed better than expected overall, improving their world ranking from 69th to 20th. However, the transition out of Olympic competition and into the next tournament proved to be a challenging experience for athletes and consultant – lessons learned will be emphasized.

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