An Exploration of Performance Management Processes used within Olympic Sport Programmes

Conor Molan, Rachel Arnold, Seamus Kelly, Elaine Toomey, James Matthews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)


The organizational environment and role delivery of support personnel have been identified as increasingly important to elite athletes’ preparation for, and performance at, pinnacle competitions. As a result, performance management has been identified as a salient research topic within the field of organizational sport psychology. The purpose of this study was to identify the performance management processes used within Olympic sport programmes and explore how these processes interact in an organizational context. Thirteen participants working in senior positions within Olympic sport organizations (e.g., national performance director) across a range of countries were interviewed. Thematic analysis identified performance management processes existing across strategic, operational, and individual levels in Olympic sport programmes. The findings also suggested that these socially dynamic processes are interrelated and influenced by the delivery of the performance leader’s role. A preliminary conceptual framework was developed to highlight these processes and illustrate their interrelated nature. Overall, the findings advance our knowledge and understanding of performance management as an organizational concept within elite sport. Practical implications are provided for sport psychology practitioners to assess and optimize how performance management processes are used within elite sport programmes. Lay summary: While performance management of personnel in traditional workplaces has been researched heavily, there are limited studies exploring the topic in elite sport. Given the importance of the organizational context for performance and well-being in sport, we explore performance management processes within Olympic sport programmes and discuss their potential practical application.Implications for practice The proposed conceptual framework (and the findings it represents) identifies the key performance management processes in Olympic sport programmes which can help practitioners evaluate current processes in place at individual, operational, and strategic levels and better understand the broader organizational context affecting athletes. The findings may help practitioners to more optimally support those operating in senior organizational roles in sports organizations in developing effective performance management processes across their system. Specifically, the training and expertise of sport psychologists can help position them to support those implementing performance management processes at the organizational (e.g., developing codes of conduct), operational (e.g., supporting cultural change), and individual (e.g., providing an optimal balance of challenge and support) levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)713-733
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Applied Sport Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date3 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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