An interpretative phenomenological analysis of burnout and recovery in elite soccer coaches

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Lundkvist, E, Gustafsson, H, Hjalm, S & Hassmen, P 2012, 'An interpretative phenomenological analysis of burnout and recovery in elite soccer coaches', Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 400-419.

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Knowledge about the personal experience of burnout in elite coaches is sparse. We therefore studied subjective experiences associated with burnout in a group of elite soccer coaches; specifically how they describe perceived causes of burnout, symptoms and the subsequent recovery process. A qualitative approach was used, because our aim was to study the coaches’ personal experiences of burnout. We conducted semi-structured interviews and used interpretative phenomenological analysis to analyse the data. We interviewed eight Swedish elite soccer coaches who had previously reported high levels of burnout. We found two burnout profiles that matched the coaches’ perceived causes of burnout. The first was associated with problems in handling the performance culture itself and the second had to do with the overall situation, including workload, family and health. Our findings describe coach burnout as stemming from a combination of issues, related to both home and work. When combined with work overload, coaches who have problems handling the performance culture in elite sports, and who lack the tools to enhance recovery, are particularly vulnerable to burnout.

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