Tag Archive for Kristoffer Henriksen

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


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).

“Organizing for Excellence”: Stress-Recovery States in the Danish National Orienteering Team during a Training Camp and the 2015 World Championship

by Astrid Becker-LarsenKristoffer HenriksenNatalia Stambulova

Vol. 8 2017, pages 87–111
Published October 3, 2017


Energy management is a natural part of the life of elite athletes. This is particularly important during periods of high demand on their resources, such as during training camps and competitions, which are often intense and do not allow sufficient time for recovery. In the 2015 World Championships, the Danish national orienteering team was the best nation, winning four gold medals. In the present study we examined: (a) the stress-recovery states of the Danish orienteers during a three-week preparatory training camp and the following 2015 World Championships, and (b) their perceived sources of stress and recovery during the two events. The study was designed as case study with the RESTQ-sport questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, and a coach’s journal as the data sources used longitudinally during the camp and the championships. Results revealed: (a) well-balanced stress-recovery states among all athletes during the entire period; and (b) perceived sources of stress and recovery classified into organizational, social, personal, and athletic. The organizational strategies played a key role in reducing athletes’ unnecessary stress and in facilitating individual recovery. We suggest that “organizing for excellence”, keeping in mind athletes’ energy management, is a special task for coaches and managers when preparing for camps and competitions.

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About the Authors

ASTRID BECKER-LARSEN is a research assistant at the Institute of Sport Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark. Astrid’s primary research interest is applied sports psychology, and more specifically mental stress and recovery. As research assistant, Astrid is also teaching different courses both on the bachelor and master level. Beside this, Astrid is working as part of Team Denmark’s (the Danish elite sport institution) external network of associated sport psychology consultants

KRISTOFFER HENRIKSEN, PhD, is an associate professor at the Institute of Sport Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark. As a researcher, Kristoffer’s main interest lies in social-psychological and ecological approaches to talent development. Kristoffer is also a sport psychology practitioner with Team Denmark, the Danish elite sport institution, and works with top-level athletes and coaches in sports such as orienteering and Olympic sailing. Kristoffer has published several papers about his applied work focusing on professional philosophy, mindfulness and working at the Olympic Games.

NATALIA B. STAMBULOVA is a professor in Sport and Exercise Psychology at School of Health and Welfare at Halmstad University, Sweden. Her professional experiences in sport psychology refer to her work for about four decades as a teacher, researcher, and practitioner in the USSR/Russia and since 2001 in Sweden. Her research and about two hundred publications relate mainly to the athlete career/talent development topic with an emphasis on athletes’ career transitions and crises. Dr. Stambulova is a member of editorial boards of several international journals and an associate editor of Psychology of Sport and Exercise.

Reality and Dreams: A Comparison of Elite Athletes’ Lived Career Paths with Young Talented Athletes’ Imagined Career Paths

by Kristoffer Henriksen & Janne Mortensen

Vol. 5 2014, pages 69–91. Published September 16, 2014


The road to international sporting success is paved with difficult transitions. The present study is a qualitative in-depth interview study with 16 athletes. We first asked eight elite level athletes to provide a biographical description of their career path. We then asked eight young talented athletes to imagine they were at the end of a successful career and invited them to portray their imagined path. The elite athletes portrayed their career path as full of challenging transitions and existential concerns, and readily emphasized a number of internal and external resources as prerequisites for their successful careers. The young athletes portrayed an easy path with few hardships and emphasized internal resources over external ones. The study sets as a question for future research whether young athletes’ naïve and pervasive optimism is a cause for concern or an important internal resource for their further career development.

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About the Authors

KRISTOFFER HENRIKSEN, PhD, is an assistant professor at the Institute of Sport Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark. Kristoffer is also a sport psychology practitioner with Team Denmark, the Danish elite sport institution. As a researcher, Kristoffer has published several papers on successful talent development environments in sport, young talented athletes’ specialization pathways, and the provision of sport psychology services to senior elite and young talented athletes. As a sport psychology practitioner, Kristoffer works with top-level  athletes and coaches in sports such as orienteering and Olympic sailing. Kristoffer has published several scientific papers about his applied work including papers on the professional philosophy of sport psychology practitioners and a paper on the delivery of sport psychology services at the Olympic Games.

JANNE REFFSTRUP MORTENSEN is master in sport science and European master in exercise and sport psychology. Janne is working as a full time sport spsychology consultant in her own company, Mental Motion. She specializes in the transition from junior to senior levels and works primarily with young talented athletes and their parents. She currently supports several young, high profile athletes on their rough road to become elite athletes. Janne is also a part of Team Denmark’s network of associated sport psychology consultants. Janne has contributed to two chapters for the book Becoming a Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology Professional: International Perspectives (2014, Psychology Press), and published the paper “A Narrative Investigation of the Imagined Career Paths of Young Athletes” (Sport Science Review, 2013, 22 p. 305.22, with Henriksen & Stelter).