Archive for Vol. 11, 2020

National and Organizational Culture in Norwegian Elite Sport: The Account of National Handball Head Coaches

by Eivind Å. Skille, Per Øystein Hansen, Frank Abrahamsen & Stiliani “Ani” Chroni


Vol. 11 2020, pages 93–116
Published October 21, 2020

Abstract

The present study looks at the organizational culture of Norwegian elite sport which we capture as the meeting point of the national and elite sport cultures. Two successful national teams, the women’s and men’s handball are the point of departure. The selected elite sport contexts are apparently similar but at the same time distinctive. Informed by theories of culture and high reliability organizations, we analyzed in depth semi-structured interviews with the national team coaches and found that their organizational cultures were characterized by three common elements: a process-oriented approach, an athlete-centered approach, and a value-based approach towards development. Variations between teams were noticed, such as how the athletes partake in the team’s value-anchoring processes. Overall, we learned that at the international level results can be achieved even when embracing, and performing, under humanistic and social-democratic values, which deviates significantly from the commonly embraced win-at-all-costs approach. Norwegian elite sport culture appears to exemplify this cultural approach by actively employing a value-system in the development of its athletes, teams and sport. In that respect, the study contributes to the international elite sport organization literature as it relates daily practices with the overall culture theory and the specific theory of high reliability organizations. The study provides a detailed account of how national Norwegian values (and further overarching Scandinavian values) pair up with elite sport demands, in team and backstage practices within two elite sport contexts.


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About the Authors

EIVIND Å. SKILLE is Dr. Scient. and professor of sport sociology with the Section for sports and physical education, Department of public health and sport sciences, Faculty of social and health sciences, Inland Norway university of applied sciences. Skille teaches and researches in sport policy and politics, sport organization and organizing, and sports participation. Recently, he has focused his research into Sámi (an Indigenous people of the North Calotte) sport. Skille serves at the advisory board of the International Sociology of Sports Association (ISSA).

PER ØYSTEIN HANSEN is Dr.Scient and associate professor of sport mangement and head of the Section for sports and physical education, Department of public health and sport sciences, Faculty of social and health sciences, Inland Norway university of applied sciences. Hansen is also associate professor II at the Department of sport and social sciences at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences. He teaches and researches subjects related to organization and leadership in and of elite sports from organizational sociology perspectives.

FRANK EIRIK ABRAHAMSEN, PhD, works at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, teaching and researching sport psychology and coaching. His special interest is in elite sport and talent development. This is no surprise, as he worked 10 years for the Olympic training center in Norway, to date – delivering sport psychology services to more than 50 national teams. In 2020 he travelled with the national chefs’ teams in the Culinary Olympics in Stuttgart, where for instance the senior team won the championship. Much of his latest publications have focused on talent development environments and leadership in elite performance.

STILIANI “ANI” CHRONI, Ph.D., is professor of sport psychology, pedagogy and sport coaching with the Elverum section of sports and physical education at Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences (iNN). Ani teaches applied sport psychology topics while her research focuses on athletes’ and coaches’ performance psychology matters. She is leading the Sport & Social Sciences Research Group for iNN and serves in the Research and Development Committee of the Association of Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) as well as past-president of the global NGO WomenSport International (WSI).

Less Talk and More Action Please: Youth National Team Handball Players’ Experiences of a Mindfulness Training Program

by Line M. Nielsen, Walter StaianoUlrich Kirk & Kristoffer Henriksen


Vol. 11 2020, pages 69–91
Published September 18, 2020

Abstract

Elite youth athletes are exposed to many stressors in sport and non-sport contexts and may benefit from the ability to be present in the moment and focus on the task at hand. Such skills are cultivated in mindfulness training. Guided by separate semi-structured interview guides for athletes and coaches, we interviewed eight male youth national team handball players and four of their club coaches about their subjective experiences and the effects of taking part in a Mindful Performance Enhancement Awareness and Knowledge (mPEAK) program. We used deductive and inductive thematic analyses to analyze the interviews. Barriers to engaging in the mindfulness training included non-supportive coaches and time constraints, whereas facilitators included supportive teammates and understanding its relevance. Experienced effects of the program included improved focus, concentration, and decision-making in sport; increased focus, memory, and performance in school; and increased presence in private life. The value of teaching young athletes mindfulness thus transcended contexts. Coaches saw no major effects. Athletes and coaches provided specific recommendations for setting up mindfulness training programs in youth sport, including club-integration, direct involvement of coaches, and sport-specific exercises. Based on the study, we provide specific recommendations for setting up mindfulness training programs in youth sport contexts.


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About the Authors

LINE MAJ NIELSEN is manager at SDU Dual Career (Syddansk Elite), helping elite athletes, coaches and referees to combine their sports career with an education program at University of Southern Denmark. Additionally, Line is working as a sport psychology consultant supporting individual athletes, teams, coaches and clubs. Line is a board member of the Danish federation for sport psychology (DIFO).

WALTER STAIANO is Chief Scientific Officer and Scientific Advisor for companies implementing cognitive training to boost performance and stress reduction. He is also a researcher at the University of Valencia (Spain). His research interest involves assessing the impact of physiological, psychological and neurophysiological factors on human tolerance and fatigue in elite sports, military personnel, and the corporate environment; and to develop innovative assessing tools, training methods, and optimal recovery strategies in support for customers’ needs.

ULRICH KIRK is an associate professor at the Department of Psychology, University of Southern Denmark. Ulrich Kirk is working mindfulness projects in the workplace funded by Velliv Foreningen and using HRV (Heart Rate Variability) and fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) where he is investigating neural and cognitive effects arising from mindfulness training.

KRISTOFFER HENRIKSEN, Ph.D., is an associate professor at the Institute of Sport Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, and head of the research unit ‘Learning and talent in sport’ (LETS). His research mainly looks at social relations and their influence on athlete development and performance with an emphasis on successful sporting environments. For more than ten years, his employment has included a specialized function as a sport psychology practitioner in Team Denmark. In this function he has worked to develop high-performance cultures in national teams and mentally strong athletes and coaches. He has supported athletes and teams during several World and European Championships and during the London and Rio Olympic Games. Kristoffer is a board member of the International Society of Sport Psychology (ISSP).

Offentlig folkehelse­arbeid og idretts- og helseideologien: Folkehelsekoordinatorers erfaringer av samarbeid med frivillige idrettslag

by Anne Tjønndal


Vol. 11 2020, pages 43–67
Published June 8, 2020

Abstract

Public health work and the sport-health ideology: The experiences of public health coordinators on collaborating with volunteer sport organizations

The idea that sport participation is a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle (the sport-health ideology) is one of the most socially pervasive ideas in modern western societies. The sport-health ideology presupposes that there is a linear correlation between sport and health, and that this correlation always is positive. This idea has proven to be persistent in European sport and welfare policies. The following study explores how the sport-health ideology is expressed in the narratives of public health workers in Norway as they discuss collaborative efforts with voluntary sport clubs. The material is derived from 24 interviews with employees in the public health sector at a municipality level in Norway. The analysis demonstrates how collaborations with volunteer sport clubs are perceived as a resource in public health work, particularly when the target groups are children and youth. Furthermore, the material illustrates how the informants talk of sport as something homogenous and health promoting, with  potential to contribute to reduced social inequality in health. These narratives show how the connection between sport participation and health is taken for granted, and how the sport-health ideology shapes the perception of volunteer sport clubs as potential public health agents.


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About the Author

ANNE TJØNNDAL is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Nord University, Bodø – Norway. Her research interests includes studies of social innovation, technology and digitalization, gender and social inclusion in sport. Her work is published in a number of high-quality international journals, including Sociology of Sport Journal, International Review for the Sociology of Sport and European Journal for Sport and Society, among others. Tjønndal is a member of The Young Academy of Norway (AYF).

Decolonizing Sport and Exercise Psychology Within a European Context: A Critical Overview

by Sepandarmaz Mashreghi


Vol. 11 2020, pages 25–42
Published May 22, 2020

Abstract

Until recently, sport and exercise psychologists have been researching acculturation and its relation with sport and exercise through a lens of universalism and (post)positivism. Using such ontological and epistemological assumptions, researchers have been preoccupied with finding linear patterns that predict the behaviours of immigrants in their new environments without much consideration to historical, sociopolitical and cultural contexts (Chirkov, 2009a). Acculturation, however, is a changing process that is extended over time and revolves within and around specific historical, political and cultural contexts. Considerations from post/anti/decolonial studies maintain that through the western eyes, race and ethnicity have become synonymous for non-white people who have been positioned as different and lesser than their white counterparts (Butryn, 2009). Western scholarship has continued to place this ‘cultural other’ in the margins of the society and in constant need of intervention. Despite a call for rethinking the epistemological understanding of the acculturation and its relation to sport and exercise (Chirkov, 2009b; Ryba & Schinke, 2009), European and Scandinavias sport and exercise psychology has remained unchallenged territory for the most part. This critical overview is a call for decolonizing the knowledge and scholarship within sport and exercise psychology by utilizing transformative approaches that centralize the voices of the cultural ‘other’ and treat them as active agents in the process of knowledge production.


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About the Author

SEPANDARMAZ MASHREGHI is a Ph.D. student at Malmö University. Her research focuses on the interplay of cultural and psychosocial influences on the understanding and participation in physical activity. She uses a critical anti-/de-colonial interpretation of physical activity and its implications on individuals’ and the larger society’s well-being. In her current project, she considers the critical and transformative aspects of using decolonial and culturally relevant methodologies (i.e. visual and arts-based methods) within a participatory action research model in order to explore young refugees engagement with physical activity, movement and sport.

Fra helt til syndebukk: En studie av hvordan en landslagstrener i fotball kombinerer transformasjonsledelse og machiavellisk ledelse

by Trine Lise Andersen


Vol. 11 2020, pages 1–24
Published April 27, 2020

Abstract

The rise and fall of a national coach in football: A study of how a national football coach combines transformational leadership and Machiavellian leadership

In this article the leadership style of a national football coach, in the context of the rationality of professional sport, where victory trumps everything, is being studied. The question discussed is whether the coach used his frequently communicated transformational leadership style as well as a Machiavellian leadership style, and whether the balance between these leadership styles changed when the team started to lose games. The assumption was that the Machiavellian leadership style would become more prominent when the results failed. This did not happen. The findings show that a one-sided transformational leadership style was not sufficient to maintain authority internally and externally in such a situation. An ability to balance the two leadership styles seems necessary. The study show that intellectual stimulation and involvement are two important dimensions for creating and maintaining authority related to the players, especially when results fail. Furthermore, the study shows that communication and ‘media-leadership’ influenced the dynamics between the media and the coach. As a result, this study has highlighted the importance for coaches to also master ‘multi-directional leadership’.


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About the Author

TRINE LISE ANDERSEN is currently a PhD student at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Department of Sport Sciences. Andersen’s main research interest is leadership in elite sport. Her PhD dissertation is about high performing cultures in football, a case study of the Norwegian national team in football for men.