Developing resilient young sport performers: The role of coaches and parents

   Department of Psychology

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  Prof M Lafferty, Prof R Bramwell, Dr Hannah Heath  No more applications being accepted  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Resilience in sport can be described as an athlete’s ability to positively adapt to the presence of adversity. Athletes’ careers are constantly subjected to fluctuations regarding performance uncertainty and uncontrollable incidents; meaning they ultimately experience both the pleasure of success and the distress of failure such as; poor performances, injury and de-selection. As the age of those entering representational sport decreases there is a need to understand how young athletes develop resilient qualities and the role of their support networks in this adaptation process.

Whilst research to-date has explored resiliency development within team sports settings less research has been conducted focusing on young athletes in individual sports. Furthermore, little is known about the role of coaches and parents in resilience development, or about the impact and influence of the tripartite relationship. Specifically, how the individual and combined involvement of those in the athletes support sphere impacts on resistance, recovery and reconfiguration development in this environment.

Enhanced understanding would allow sport psychologists to develop specific frameworks and intervention designed to enhance resiliency and develop this critical component at an early stage of an athlete’s career. Examination through a psychosocial lens will provide evidence that will inform the development of holistic interventions that consider the unique aspects of individual junior sport participation where both the stressors and the role of the tripartite relationship may be considered different to that in other sporting environments.

With these factors in mind the proposed research will investigate the nature of resiliency and associated characteristics in young sport performers, examine the role of parents and coaches in the development of these characteristics and develop a specific intervention designed to enhance the resilient qualities of young sport performers.

This is an exciting opportunity to conduct research in an applied setting and explore resiliency and the development of resilient qualities in young performers. We envisage that this project will include both quantitative and qualitative methods and would suit someone interested in a mixed methods approach.

Studying at Chester

As a postgraduate research student at the University of Chester, you will benefit from being part of one of the fastest-growing Graduate Schools in the UK. The University has almost 500 students studying towards a research degree, each of whom benefit from our excellent library and learning resources, including a dedicated postgraduate study space and regular programme of skills development workshops. Your work will be supervised by a team of experts in your specialist area of study, in addition to our faculty postgraduate tutor. The Principal Supervisors for this project is Professor Moira Lafferty; prospective applicants are very welcome to contact Prof. Lafferty in advance of making an application to discuss this project in more depth.

Based within the Department of Psychology, you will also have access to our suite of research laboratories and a host of specialist equipment for your data collection, supported by a small team of psychology technicians. Our department supports an enthusiastic and active research community of which you will be part. This includes our monthly research seminar series, public lectures, and regular meetings of our research groups and journal clubs. For this particular project, you will join our Social and Evolutionary Research Group. One of the key aims of this Research Group is to facilitate collaboration across group members from different research backgrounds and with different areas of methodological expertise - this makes it ideally suited to the mixed methods approach of this project.

Funding Notes

You will be allocated a generous development fund to support your data collection and conference attendance. We are not able to provide any other financial support for your studies: these advertisements are for self-funded study only and you will be required at the point of application stage to detail how you will pay your fees (see You are encouraged to have a sensible plan in place for payment of your living expenses whilst you undertake this work.