Coping with success and failure – Among Swedish and Portuguese track and field athletes and coaches

University essay from Högskolan i Halmstad/Högskolan i Halmstad


The aim of this study was to examine how athletes and coaches, in Sweden and Portugal, perceive and experience success and failure in relation to sport. Moreover, study if there were cultural differences in coping. The main objectives of the study consisted of examining differences based on culture and coaches vs. athletes in the following research questions; how athletes and coaches define, react and cope with success and failure, how they perceive consequences and how coaches help athletes to cope with success and failure. Fifteen (n=15) individual semi structured interviews was carried out with ten (n=10) Swedish and five (n=5) Portuguese sportsmen. An interview guide based on the objectives of the study was developed. 1226 raw data units were identified and categorised using categorization, tagging and regrouping of relevant concepts. The results are discussed according to several stress-coping theories. Moreover, the result showed some differences based on both culture and on coaches vs. athletes. Furthermore success was mainly defined as reaching goals and failure as performance related mistakes. Reactions on both success and failure were mainly emotional. Negative consequences of both success and failure were most common and problem- focused coping were adopted to cope with those situations. The coaches supported the athletes by adopting emotion- and problem-focused coping.

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