Psychological safety in sport: A systematic review and concept analysis

Stewart A. Vella, Elizabeth Mayland, Matthew J. Schweickle, Jordan T. Sutcliffe, Desmond McEwan, Christian Swann

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There has been a rapid proliferation of empirical research on the relationship between sport participation and mental health. As a result of this movement, there has been an increased focus on the constructs that can predict or explain mental health outcomes in sport. Psychological safety in sport is among the constructs surfaced in the movement. Despite this, there is a considerable lack of conceptual clarity regarding how to define psychological safety and how it can be fostered in sport. As such, the aim of this study was to provide conceptual clarity of the term psychological safety in the context of sport. To achieve this aim, we first systematically searched for all currently available studies that have discussed psychological safety in a sport context. Then, a concept analysis approach was applied wherein the definitions, attributes, antecedents, and consequences were thematically analysed across 67 studies. As a result of this synthesis, psychological safety in sport was conceptualised as a continuous, group level construct that is perceived (and reported) at an individual level. We also provide a descriptive model of psychological safety in sport that we hope lends clarity and debate to the field moving forward.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Early online date2 Feb 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Feb 2022


  • Athlete
  • definition development
  • mental health
  • psychological harm
  • wellbeing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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