A holistic ecological approach to sport and study: The case of an athlete friendly university in Denmark

Kristoffer Henriksen*, Louise Kamuk Storm, Andreas Küttel, Lukas Linnér, Natalia Stambulova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Objectives: Dual career development environments (DCDEs) exist to support student-athletes in their endeavours to combine sport with education or work. Such environments are likely to vary in their structure, processes, philosophy, and degree of efficiency. With the overall aim of applying the holistic ecological approach (Henriksen, Stambulova & Roessler, 2010) to the study of DCDEs, the objectives of the present study are: (a) to provide a holistic description of a Danish athlete-friendly university as a DCDE, and (b) to investigate the factors influencing the environment’s effectiveness. Methodology: Based on two working models, the study takes a case study approach and a real-time perspective and uses multiple sources of data (interviews, observations, and documents). Results: Two empirical models summarize the findings and portray the DCDE as: (1) centred on a dual career (DC) support team that serves to support communication and coordination between the sport, study, and private domains; (2) focused on providing individual solutions for each athlete; (3) teaching student-athletes to plan, prioritize, communicate, and take responsibility for the balance in their DC endeavour; and (4) deeply rooted in a shared DC philosophy that puts sport first and recognizes that the student-athletes must be seen as whole persons. Conclusion: Researcher-practitioners in the DC context are encouraged to focus not only on the challenges and coping strategies of the individual student-athletes but to understand and (if necessary) optimize the entire environment around them.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101637
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • dual career
  • environment
  • elite sport


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