"No stone left unturned": Collegiate-level coaches' perspectives on self-compassion in sport


Self-compassion is an adaptive resource that has been shown to help sport professionals flourish and navigate difficult setbacks (e.g., Ferguson et al., 2015). As a means to understand coach perspectives of self-compassion in high performance sport, seven collegiate-level coaches (6 men, 1 woman) were recruited as knowledgeable experts with an average of 16.0 years of experience coaching at any level (SD = 3.5) and represented both individual and team sports. Using semi-structured interviews, coaches were asked to provide their input on the state of self-compassion in sport research as it relates to their roles and to identify key gaps in the literature. Data were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis. Four common themes were identified: (a) the desire for intervention studies with recommendations that could be easily translated into their coaching practice for the benefit of themselves and their athletes, (b) a curiosity about when in an athlete's development or competitive season might self-compassion be best woven into existing sport mental skills curriculum, (c) an interest in 'fierce self-compassion', (d) and the need for research with populations asides from Westernized collegiate-level athletes. While coaches acknowledged that they have observed a hesitance to embrace self-compassion in the sport environment, they also recognized that self-compassion played an integral part in their athletes' performance and well-being as well as their own.

Acknowledgments: Danielle Cormier and Dr. Kent Kowalski were supported in their work on this project in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.