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Psychological characteristics of champion orienteers: Should they be considered in talent identification and development?

Newton, J and Holmes, PS (2017) Psychological characteristics of champion orienteers: Should they be considered in talent identification and development? International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 12 (1). pp. 109-118. ISSN 1747-9541

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Abstract

A range of cognitive skills that support the development of sport potential have been suggested to be important for athletes and coaches. This study explored performers’ psychological characteristics within orienteers. The psychological skills of World Elite orienteers and athletes in the National Junior Squads of both Great Britain and Switzerland were assessed using the six-factor Psychological Characteristics of Excellence Questionnaire. Data suggested that, as juniors, elite orienteers reported less support for long-term success than the Swiss juniors, perhaps because of the earlier adoption of self-coaching, but were not significantly different from either junior group on all other factors. British juniors were not significantly different from the other two groups on any factor. Follow-up qualitative approaches explored possible reasons for the World Elites’ early reliance on ‘‘self’’ rather than ‘‘other’’, the role of the coach and the self-coaching phenomenon. The role of orienteering in developing these skills is also discussed along with unique psychological challenges faced by high performing orienteers.

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