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Loughborough University supporting New Zealand’s Olympic dreams

Performance psychology and management research conducted in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences is being used to help New Zealand's Olympic athletes and teams prepare for the Rio Olympics.

Last month, Dr David Fletcher consulted with High Performance Sport New Zealand’s leadership and staff about how best to develop resilient athletes, teams and organizations.  His visit was funded by a New Zealand Prime Minister’s Scholarship.

During his visit, Dr Fletcher presented at the High Performance Directors’ Leadership Forum about how to develop the skills required to perform at consistently high levels under pressure.  The audience, which consisted of leaders from a range of New Zealand’s top sports teams and organisations, spent time discussing how best to translate the insights to their specific sports and contexts.

Dr Fletcher also hosted a two day professional development workshop with the national teams’ sport psychologists, to discuss innovations in coaching practice and education across a number of sports.  The visit marks the start of an ongoing relationship aligned with New Zealand’s vision of a world-leading system that optimises athletes’ well-being and performance at the highest level of international sport.

Dr Fletcher said:

“Using our research to positively impact on the ‘real-world’ of elite sport is an important part of our work in School.  High Performance Sport New Zealand wanted to learn about and find ways to apply the findings of our research, and we took some really positive steps in informing athlete support at a national level”.

Campbell Thompson, from High Performance Sport New Zealand’s psychology practice said:

“As a group we identified the research by David and his colleagues as world-leading in informing how sports systems can cultivate psychological resilience in athletes across time. It was a pleasure to welcome David to New Zealand and there was a strong fit with the applied models of practice we use. David’s work with us is an important step in developing a shared and practical understanding of how coaches, administrators, support teams and athletes can work together to help New Zealanders thrive at the highest levels of performance on the world stage.”

Professor Mark Freeman, Loughborough University Research Challenge Leader: Secure and Resilient Societies, added:

“Resilience is a concept that cross-cuts across many sectors and levels.  Elite sport is one of the most visible and demanding of arenas and, as such, the ability to perform under pressure is a prerequisite for success at the highest levels.  Our partnership with High Performance Sport New Zealand is another example of the global reach and significance of our work in this area”.

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