The role of off-job experiences and activities on recovery in athletes and sport coaches

(August 2014 – August 2018) 

In a time where demands placed on both athletes and coaches are increasing, the importance of preserving their well-being is increasing. A chronic lack of recovery may eventually lead to ill- being and burnout in athletes and coaches, and the subsequent dropout of both athletes and coaches is unwanted. It is a waste of the money, time and effort that has been put in the athlete, and the knowledge that will be lost when a coach leaves to profession. Therefore, the goal of this research project is to investigate the underlying processes and activities that benefit or impede recovery from effort expenditure among professionals in the elite sport domain.

Elite sport is an especially fascinating work domain, since athletes and sport coaches are frequently faced with high demands (e.g., high pressure to perform), but are often also provided with adequate resources (e.g., rewards, instrumental support or emotional support). Moreover, considering the number of hours athletes dedicate to training and competing, a significant number of hours is spent outside the immediate sports setting. Surprisingly, however, there is a dearth of research investigating the role of resources and recovery experiences during “off-job” time (i.e., leisure time) in relation to athletes’ and coaches’ well-being. In addition, knowledge about psychological recovery, that takes places primarily during this off-job time, is lacking in sport. Building on theories and research findings in the field of Work & Organizational Psychology, we propose that off-job recovery in sport is crucial for the restoration of both physical and psychological resources. Examining athletes’ and coaches’ experiences outside the sport context is particularly relevant, as they can serve as a buffer against the negative consequences of high demands arising from training and competition.

While focusing primarily on the sport domain, this research will also contribute to the ‘traditional’ work domain literature, by trying to extend its theories and models to a different population. Interesting observations regarding potential similarities between work and sport, and insights that show how both domains differ, can be equally valuable. 

Project Members
·       Yannick Balk, MSc (TU/e)
·       Prof. dr. Jan de Jonge (TU/e)
·       Prof. dr. Sabine Geurts (Radboud University)
·       Dr. Wido Oerlemans (TU/e)

Progress
The project started in August 2014. We have finished two studies and are currently conducting a third study. 

Publications
·       In progress

Contact Person
Yannick Balk, MSc
Phone: +31 (0)40 247 8852
E-mail: y.a.balk@tue.nl