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Promoting Thriving in High-Performance Environments:

Flourishing in the wellbeing space encompasses more than just the absence of distress; it involves experiencing positive emotions, personal growth, and a sense of purpose and fulfillment. This article explores the skills and strategies that contribute to flourishing in wellbeing, allowing individuals to thrive and lead fulfilling lives. This article highlights the importance of promoting thriving in high-performance contexts and explores the impact of the environment and individuals within it on achieving this goal.

Understanding Flourishing in Wellbeing: Flourishing in wellbeing entails the simultaneous presence of positive emotions, personal growth, and a sense of purpose and fulfillment. It goes beyond mere satisfaction with life and encompasses a holistic state of health [1].

At Athlete IQ - we use PERMA, an acronym coined by positive psychologist Martin Seligman, representing five essential elements for well-being and flourishing. Each letter stands for a different component:

P - Positive Emotions: This refers to experiencing positive emotions such as joy, gratitude, love, and hope. Cultivating positive emotions contributes to overall well-being.

E - Engagement: This involves being fully absorbed and engaged in activities that bring a sense of flow, where time seems to fly by and one is fully immersed in the present moment. Engagement fosters a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.

R - Relationships: Building and nurturing positive relationships with others is essential for well-being. Having strong social connections, meaningful friendships, and supportive relationships contributes to happiness and overall life satisfaction.

M - Meaning: Finding meaning and purpose in life is crucial for well-being. It involves identifying one's values, having a sense of direction, and aligning one's actions with their core beliefs and goals.

A - Accomplishment: This refers to setting and achieving meaningful goals, which can range from small daily accomplishments to significant milestones. Accomplishments provide a sense of competence, self-efficacy, and satisfaction.

The PERMA model serves as a framework to understand and promote well-being, emphasizing the importance of positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment in leading a fulfilling life.

Skills for Flourishing in Wellbeing: To cultivate flourishing in wellbeing, individuals can develop the following skills:

  1. Positive Emotion Regulation: Practicing emotional awareness and regulation techniques, such as mindfulness and gratitude, helps individuals experience and sustain positive emotions. These skills allow individuals to navigate challenges with resilience and maintain an optimistic outlook [2].

  2. Growth Mindset: Adopting a growth mindset, which views challenges as opportunities for growth and learning, promotes personal development and resilience. Embracing the belief that abilities and qualities can be developed through effort enhances wellbeing and facilitates flourishing [3].

  3. Meaning and Purpose: Cultivating a sense of meaning and purpose in life involves identifying core values, setting meaningful goals, and aligning daily activities with one's values. Having a clear sense of purpose provides a sense of direction and fulfillment, contributing to overall wellbeing [4].

  4. Social Connections: Building and nurturing positive relationships is vital for flourishing in wellbeing. Investing in social connections, fostering empathy and compassion, and engaging in acts of kindness promote positive emotions and a sense of belonging [5].

  5. Self-Care and Wellbeing Practices: Prioritizing self-care activities, such as exercise, proper nutrition, quality sleep, and stress management, supports physical and mental wellbeing. Engaging in practices that promote relaxation, creativity, and self-reflection fosters flourishing in wellbeing [6].

Flourishing in wellbeing involves experiencing positive emotions, personal growth, and a sense of purpose and fulfillment. By developing skills such as positive emotion regulation, growth mindset, meaning and purpose, social connections, and self-care practices, individuals can cultivate flourishing in their lives. These skills empower individuals to navigate challenges, embrace personal growth, and lead fulfilling lives.

In the context of elite sport and high performance, the desire for achievement is inherent in all individuals, driving them towards self-improvement and development.

How can Coaches enable Human Thriving?

Understanding Thriving: Thriving refers to the simultaneous experience of development and success [1]. Development encompasses progressive enhancements in physical, psychological, and social aspects, while success is reflected in relevant outcomes across different domains. Thriving is characterized by holistic functioning, combining high levels of well-being and performance [1].

Optimizing Contextual Enablers: Contextual enablers are the characteristics of an environment that foster task engagement and subsequent thriving [4]. Coaches and support staff can reinforce these enablers to promote thriving in high-performance contexts.

  • Challenge Environment: Creating situations that provide an appropriate balance of challenge and difficulty allows athletes to learn and grow. For example, thriving players in sports academies are offered opportunities to play in senior teams, providing career development prospects.

  • Attachment and Trust: Leveraging interpersonal relationships as resources promotes exploration of challenging situations aligned with coaches' objectives. Secure attachment, acceptance, and trust in relationships contribute to thriving, as athletes feel committed and mutually benefit from success and development.

  • Family Support: Research shows that family support acts as a catalyst for thriving. Designing schedules that allow adequate time for athletes' significant others is crucial in maintaining family support and reducing strain.

  • Teammates and Staff Support: Encouraging teammates to support and guide each other through tasks and challenges enhances thriving. Coaches and staff should provide support, offer performance feedback, and create an overall supportive environment to facilitate learning and vitality [6].

Role as Social Agents: Coaches and support staff play a vital role as social agents in fostering an environment conducive to human thriving in sport. Establishing bonds between teammates and a connection to the coaching staff and club are key mechanisms for promoting thriving [3].

  • Establishing Bonds Between Teammates: Setting collective goals, maintaining equality in the squad, facilitating interaction, and promoting effective communication styles among teammates create a sense of unity and support.

  • Establishing a Connection to the Coaching Staff and Club: Nurturing a family club culture, considering non-playing squad members, fostering an honest and fear-free environment, and prioritizing enjoyment contribute to thriving. Decreasing player turnover rate, establishing joint team and club goals, and supporting player development are also important.

Athletes thrive in an integrated, inclusive, and trusting environment [3]. Coaches should engage in overt and substantial gestures, such as team socials, as well as small subtle interactions with players. Supporting athletes' support networks and appealing to their sensitivities and welfare are crucial for success in emotionally demanding sports.

Promoting thriving in high-performance environments requires optimizing contextual enablers and recognizing the role of social agents. Thriving is achieved through the joint experience of development and success, characterized by high levels of well-being and performance.

By reinforcing high standards, challenging and discomfortable environments, fostering attachment and trust through removing judgment, providing family and teammate support, and establishing bonds with coaching staff, clubs can effectively support athletes in achieving authenticity, embracing their own story and ultimately greatness.


  1. Brown, D. J., Arnold, R., Fletcher, D., & Standage, M. (2017). Human Thriving. European Psychologist.

  2. Su, R., Tay, L., & Diener, E. (2014). The development and validation of the comprehensive inventory of thriving (CIT) and the brief inventory of thriving (BIT). Applied Psychology: Health and WellBeing, 6, 251–279.

  3. Brown, D. J., & Arnold, R. (2019). Sports performers’ perspectives on facilitating thriving in professional rugby contexts. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 40, 71–81.

  4. Su, R., Tay, L., & Diener, E. (2014). The development and validation of the comprehensive inventory of thriving (CIT) and the brief inventory of thriving (BIT). Applied Psychology: Health and WellBeing, 6, 251–279.

  5. Sarkar, M., & Fletcher, D. (2014). Ordinary magic, extraordinary performance: Psychological resilience and thriving in high achievers. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 3, 46–60.

  6. Spreitzer, G., & Porath, C. (2014). Self-determination as a nutriment for thriving: Building an integrative model of human growth at work. In M. Gagné (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of work engagement, motivation, and self-determination theory (pp. 245–258). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.


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