Interpersonal conflict is a common factor reported by governing bodies and their athletes when preparing for, or competing in, major games and championships (Olusoga, Butt, Hays, & Maynard, 2009). The aim of this study was to conduct a preliminary exploration of a UK home nation’s athletes, management, and support staff experiences of interpersonal conflict during competition. Ninety participants who had represented or worked for their nation at major games or championships completed a detailed survey of interpersonal conflict experiences associated with competition. The results suggest athletes, coaches, and team managers are at the greatest risk from interpersonal conflict, while the competition venue and athlete village are where the most incidences of conflict occur. Interpersonal conflict was also suggested to predominantly lead to negative cognitive, affective, and behavioral consequences (disagreement, anger, upset, loss in concentration). Findings are discussed in the context of the experience of the interpersonal conflict with provisional recommendations offered for developing effective strategies for conflict management.
Mellalieu is with the Dept. of Sports Science, Swansea University, Swansea, United Kingdom. D. Shearer is with the Dept. of Psychology, University of Glamorgan, Pontypridd, Rhondda Cynon Taff, United Kingdom. C. Shearer is with the Sports Science Dept., SportWales, Cardiff, United Kingdom.