What to do to succeed? A qualitative study on the competencies of high-potential and world-class beach volleyball players

Suzan Blijlevens, Paul Wylleman, K. Bool, C. Visscher, Marije Elferink-Gemser

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)


An athlete’s actual behaviour in dealing with developmental challenges plays a key role in their progressive accumulation of
expertise. Questions of how psychological competencies are reflected in athletes’ actual behaviour during training, competition
and in their daily lives, and how these competencies influence their actions in the face of challenges, remain underexplored. The
primary aim of our research was to determine the psychological competencies that characterise world-class beach volleyball
players in comparison to competitive players and how these are reflected in their behaviour. A secondary aim was to explore
whether the competencies of world-class athletes are already present in high-potential beach volleyball players. Data were
gathered from in-depth interviews held with 28 beach volleyball players (both male and female), of whom 8 were world-class, 7
competitive and the remaining 13 were high-potential beach volleyball players in the initiation and development phase of their
athletic development. The data were interpreted using thematic analysis. World-class players were differentiated based on 10
self-reported competencies within four thematic clusters: (1) knowing what to do and actually doing it, (2) focusing on personal
development, (3) internal attribution of actions and (4) proactive behaviour and a hands-on attitude. The results yielded qualitative
insights about the psychological competencies of world-class athletes and how they should be developed in high-potential
athletes to enable them to perform at a world-class level.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAbstract Book FEPSAC
Subtitle of host publication15th European Congress of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Place of PublicationMünster
PublisherWWU Münster
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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