Wellbeing Hub

Elite Athlete Wellbeing – Getting Real Outcomes

7 Principles Of Elite Athlete Wellbeing

Getting to the heart of what really makes a difference in elite athlete wellbeing is difficult. Partly because when it comes to elite athlete wellbeing there is no one way. But there are some guiding principles that are supported by significant research findings and have been tested in the field.  Here are some of the things we’ve learnt at the Wellbeing Science Institute.

1. Get deep expert advice

Before you begin, get expert advice from a number of perspectives.  For example it might pay to remember that psychological wellbeing is not simply the absence of psychological distress or disorders.  Yet many mental health “experts” are advocating approaches which are applied to alleviate suffering not enabling human flourishing. These two ideas are vastly different concepts.  When it comes to psychological wellbeing,  it’s important to get both perspectives.

2. Be very clear on your wellbeing philosophy

There are 2 main schools of thought in this regard.  Should your program be about the pursuit of happiness (the hedonic approach)? Or the pursuit of the meaningful life (the eudemonic approach)?  While this may seem like semantics, it’s actually a critical decision for your athletes.  It’s also important to consider whether your approach will include athlete performance as part of wellbeing.  One of the risks in integrating performance with wellbeing is athletes willingness to openly share confidential information. Because such confidential information can be detrimental to short-term performance, athlete selection, contract and privacy.

3. Have a clear wellbeing model before you begin

Unfortunately too many wellbeing models are conceptual or academic and not grounded in the practical way in which athletes live their lives.  The best wellbeing models are ones that consider the whole person and life context.  In other words, it’s how athletes live their lives on a day-to-day basis.

4. Know the person – not just the athlete

Often what we know most about our athletes are their PBs, their physiological performance stats and their future athletic performance goals – but nowhere near enough about who they are as people.

5. Customise all wellbeing efforts

Don’t use a template.  When it comes to Wellbeing Plans, often athletes feel like it’s a process that’s done “to them” not with them or for them.  Letting athletes decide their interests, focus and goals is fundamental to success.

6. Your elite athlete wellbeing measures matter

Having subjective and objective wellbeing measures allow you to track an athlete’s response to their wellbeing and also the achievement of wellbeing outcomes.  It goes without saying that wellbeing goals without measures are destined to fail.

7. Get qualified as an elite athlete wellbeing specialist

Just as you wouldn’t hire a Head of High Performance without qualifications or a Coach without accreditation, your Wellbeing Advisor should be well qualified.  Elite Sport now has a professional qualification for elite athlete wellbeing management – the Certificate IV in Elite Athlete Wellbeing Management (10654NAT).

This list is more than a menu, it’s a set of guiding principles.  These principles are grounded in evidence-based science. They’ve also been tested in elite athlete environments and the athletes and over 100 Wellbeing Managers that we’ve trained over the last 2 years, tell us they work.

Steve Johnson is CEO of the Wellbeing Science Institute

The Wellbeing Science Institute is the only provider of the World’s first accreditation program for elite athlete wellbeing management. The Certificate IV in Elite Athlete Wellbeing Management is the first program to address elite athlete wellbeing from a holistic, developmental, evidence-based perspective. 

Tags: elite athlete wellbeing, elite sport, wellbeing