Looking at success from its opposite pole: The case of a talent development golf environment in Denmark

Kristoffer Henriksen, Carsten Hvid Larsen, Mette Krogh Christensen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The holistic ecological approach highlights the central role of the environment in talent development in sport and acknowledges that some sporting environments are more successful than others in nurturing athlete development. Case studies of successful athletic talent development environments (ATDEs) in Scandinavia have suggested that successful environments are unique but also share a number of features that determine their success. The present study tests this suggestion by applying the holistic ecological approach to the study of a struggling ATDE, which is a golf team in a sport academy in Denmark with limited success in producing senior elite athletes from among its juniors. Adopting a case study design, we collected data from multiple perspectives (in-depth interviews with administrators, coaches and athletes), from multiple situations (observation of training, competitions and daily life) and from the analysis of documents. We found that the struggling environment was characterised by features that are in opposition to those of successful environments; e.g.: a lack of supportive training groups and role models; little understanding from non-sport environment; no integration of efforts among different parts of the environment; and an incoherent organisational culture. This finding provides support to the idea that the previously suggested features of successful environments do indeed capture qualities that successful environments possess and less successful ones lack (at least within a fairly similar cultural setting such as Scandinavia). The investigation of struggling ATDEs from a holistic ecological perspective provides the sport psychology practitioner with a strategy to strengthen the environment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)134-149
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • applied sport psychology
  • athletic talent development environment
  • case studies
  • holistic ecological approach
  • interpersonal processes


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