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Paul Wylleman

Full Professor, Head Dpt. Topsport & Studie, Head SPMB Research Group , Professors
+32 (0)2 629 27 12


Paul Wylleman, Ph.D. Psychology, is lic. Clinical psychology (children, adolescents, adults) and full professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel teaching sport psychology, high performance management and mental support for athletes, and competences for sport managers for bachelor and masters students sport sciences and psychology.

He heads the research group Sport Psychology and Mental Support and the department Topsport and Study, supporting since 1987 more than 1,000 athletes in their dual career.

Using a holistic perspective his research focuses on the development of and transitions in the elite sports career, the development of psychological competences in talented and elite athletes, the mental well-being of talented and elite athletes and elite coaches, the dual career of elite athletes, and the competences of (sport) psychologists working in elite sport.

Paul was coordinator/lead researcher for (inter)national projects including European Erasmus+ projects ‘Gold in Education and Elite Sport (GEES)’, ‘Be a WInner in elite Sport and Employment before and after athletic Retirement (B-WISER)’ and ‘Dual Career for Mental Health (DC4MH)’. With his research group the VUB was also project partner in the European Erasmus+ project ‘Ecology of Dual Career. Exploring Dual Career Development Environments across Europe (ECO-DC)’.

Other research projects were coordinated/led for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on the junior-to-senior transition, dual career support providers, the post-athletic career; for the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) on athletes’ drug-taking behaviors; for the International Federation of Professional Players (FIFPro) on professional players’ post-player careers; as well as for the Flemish and Brussels’ governments on the dual career of elite athletes, elite sport policy, career development of elite athletes, the role of sport psychologists in elite sport schools and in support to talented and elite athletes, and the development of elite athletes’ psychological competences. He was awarded a Chair for research on the use of sport psychology in elite sport by the Flemish government.

Paul has published articles, chapters and books on the topic of, amongst others, mental skills of elite athletes and coaches, the quality of sport psychology support service/providers, and career and lifestyle management of elite (young) athletes. He has been and is also on the editorial boards of and reviewer for several sport psychology journals and journals related to coaching, sport medicine and sport and society. Paul has been (co-)promotor and jury member of doctoral dissertations and is consulted as external examiner in dossiers on academic promotion.

Paul has been a key-note and invited speaker and presented at international (sport) psychology (e.g., International Society of Sport Psychology, ISSP; Association of Applied Sport Psychology, AASP; European Federation of Psychology Associations, EFPA; British Psychology Society, BPS) and sport science congresses (e.g., European Council for Sport Sciences, ECSS; British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences, BASES), for international (e.g., IOC; European Olympic Committees, EOC; International Paralympic Committee, IPC) and national elite sport organisations (e.g., Japan Sport Council, JSC; UKSport; National institute of elite sport and performance, INSEP; the English FA; Australian Institute of Sport, AIS; Bundesamt für Sport, BASPO), for (inter)national societies/federations of (sport) psychology, as well as for the European Parliament on mental health in elite sport and for the European Commission.

Paul was the 2017 Distinguished International Scholar of the Applied Association of Sport Psychology (AASP, USA) and was awarded a Young Investigator Award by the European Council for Sport Sciences (1996).

Paul was also member of the European Commission’s Group of Experts drafting the 2012 EU guidelines on dual careers of athletes ‘Recommended policy actions in support of dual careers in high-performance sport’ and of the EU Expert Group ‘Human resources development in sport’.

He served eight years as President of the European Federation of Sport Psychology (FEPSAC), was board member for the associated members of the European Federation of Psychology Associations (EFPA) and is past-President of the Flemish Society of Sport Psychology (VVSP). In 2004, he founded and is the coordinator of the European Forum for Applied Sport psychologists in Topsport (FAST) bringing together sport psychology service providers working with elite and Olympic athletes and teams in thirteen European countries.

Paul is a registered psychologist with the Belgian Federation of Psychology (BFP) and member of National Institute of Psychologists (NIP) in the Netherlands.

During the past 30 years, Paul has provided psychological support services to talented, elite athletes and Olympic athletes and coaches in different individual and team sports during European and World Championships and Summer and Winter Olympic Games. He was also psychologist to Belgium’s DavisCup and FedCup teams.

Finally, since 2014, Paul has been lead psychologist and performance manager Performance Behavior at TeamNL (Olympic Committee of the Netherlands, NOC*NSF) where he leads a team of psychologists and elite sport lifestyle coaches in support of the Dutch talented and elite athletes, teams, coaches and support staff. He was the team psychologist for TeamNL during the 2016 Rio and 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and is now en route to the 2022 Beijing and 2024 Paris Olympic Games.


Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussels