Sport psychology at the Olympics: The case of a Danish sailing crew in a head wind

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Performing your best at the Olympic Games is a unique and stressful challenge for all involved, including athletes, coaches, and sport psychology practitioners. This paper provides a descriptive account and personal reflections of a sport psychology intervention aimed at helping a sailing crew perform at the ultimate event. The paper describes the specific strategies the sport psychology practitioner used to help the two sailors prepare for, and perform at, the Olympics as well as to cope with their disappointment after the Games. While the preparation went smoothly, the crew experienced a significant head wind (metaphor for adversity) during the Olympics. The present case is an example of the scientist–practitioner. The intervention was based on a clear theory, the cognitive behavioural tradition, and came from an evidence-based perspective. After the Games, the intervention was evaluated methodically. Based on this evaluation (alongside several similar ones), the sport psychology team of Team Denmark has decided to assess the integration of mindfulness and acceptance-based approaches into service delivery and to include these perspectives in the team's professional philosophy. Key components of such interventions include staying in the present moment, accepting the multitude of thoughts and feelings that arise without necessarily acting on them, and clarifying personal values alongside a commitment to act on these values. These processes are no less important for the sport psychology practitioner who is expected to remain calm and focused—and to never bend even in the strongest wind.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)43-55
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015

Bibliographical note

Published online: 13 Aug 2014


  • Olympic Games
  • cognitive therapy in sport
  • mindfulness acceptance commitment approach
  • sailing
  • sport psychology service delivery


Dive into the research topics of 'Sport psychology at the Olympics: The case of a Danish sailing crew in a head wind'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this