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Public Defense of Dra. Suzan Blijlevens

Location: Academy Building of the Rijksuniversity of Groningen
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On Wednesday 4 December at 16.15 Suzan Blijlevens will defend her dissertation "Performance behaviour in elite sports". The public defense will take place in the Academy Building of the Rijksuniversity of Groningen (Broerstraat 5, 9712 CP Groningen). Following the defense, the reception will take place in the winebar of the Mr. Mofongo (close to the Academy Building). It is a public defense and you are all invited.

Performance behaviour in elite sports – Suzan Blijlevens

To win that one final, to be the best in the world or to become an Olympic champion. That is what high-potential and elite athletes train for. Every day and for many years. The way to get there is dynamic and complex, and full of challenges athletes need to handle.

To effectively deal with the challenges this rocky road throws at them, athletes require performance behaviour. Performance behaviour reflects the athlete’s actual behaviour in all situations he or she is confronted with on a day-to- day basis. It leads to an optimal development and a maximum level of performance in sport. To enhance athletes’ performance behaviour, they should develop psychological competencies.

This dissertation provides insight in the psychological competencies that high-potential and world-class athletes require to deal with the challenges they face in different stages of their athletic career. To achieve that objective, the main focus is on athletes’ perceived challenges in different stages of their athletic career and what they need to successfully handle them from a holistic perspective.

Yet unanswered questions in literature are studied, such as: what are the perceived challenges high-potential and elite athletes are confronted with throughout their athletic career? What psychological competencies do they need to deal with the challenges of their athletic career? Are those psychological competencies the same in each of the stages of athletic development? And how can coaches assess the psychological competencies of their athletes? 

Being the first to study the competencies of performance behaviour, this dissertation shows that high-potential and elite athletes in different stages of their athletic career are confronted with partly similar and partly different challenges. As a consequence, the need and importance of the possession of specific psychological competencies changes throughout the athletic career.