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Exhaustion and cynicism needs to be targeted differently – a study among Paralympic coaches

Marte Bentzen, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Norway
Goran Kentta, The Swedish School of Sport and Health Science, Sweden

Theme: Coaching/leadership

Program ID: SYM-08

Presentation: September 29, 2016 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Room: Goldwater


The role of the Paralympic coach has been highlighted as important in facilitating athlete development (Tawse, Bloom, Sabiston, & Reid, 2012). Being a Paralympic coach might be especially rewarding in the light of developing both the athlete and the person in disability sport, but also taxing due to extraordinary demands (Kenttä & Corban, 2014). Recent research has shown that high-performance coaches are vulnerable to burnout due to working in a complex and highly demanding environment (Bentzen, Lemyre, & Kenttä, 2016; Fletcher & Scott, 2010). Unfortunately, coach research in disability sport is limited (Robbins & Houstion, 2010). Burnout is described by three defining features including emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and a reduced feeling of personal accomplishment (Maslach, Jackson & Leiter, 1996). Researchers disagree on how these dimensions are influencing one another over time (Taris, Le Blanc, Schaufeli, & Schreurs, 2005), but agree that they do not develop simultaneously and therefore needs to be studied separately (Maslach, 2003; Maslach & Leiter, 2008). The purpose of this study was to better understand demands that are associated with the two core components of burnout, exhaustion and cynicism, among Paralympic coaches (N = 16, Mage = 44.75 years, SD = 9.32; Mexperience = 16.13 years, SD = 10.57; women 31.1% and men 68.8%). Participants responded to an online questionnaire just after the Paralympics, and correlation analysis was employed to identify associations in the range of moderate to strong. Findings indicated that exhaustion was strongly and positively related to perceived workload and Work-Home-Interference. In contrast, cynicism was strongly and negatively associated to autonomy support from their leaders and recovery. It can be argued that different demands and strains are associated to the different dimension of burnout. Based on the reported findings, potential implications and interventions aiming to prevent burnout will be discussed

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