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An “Organizational Triangle” to Coordinate Talent Development: A Case Study in Danish Swimming

Ole Winthereik Mathorne, Kristoffer Henriksen, and Natalia Stambulova

This case study in Danish swimming was informed by a holistic ecological approach in talent development and aimed to explore (a) collaborative relationships between the Danish swimming federation, a municipality, and a local swimming club, termed “an organizational triangle,” and (b) factors influencing the success of their collaboration at the local level. Data collection and analysis were guided by the athletic-talent-development-environment (working) model and a newly developed collaboration-success-factors (CSF) model. Methods included interviews with talent-development coordinators representing the organizations and analysis of documents. Results allowed the authors to transform the CSF (working) model into an empirical model containing the collaboration preconditions (e.g., power to make decisions), processes (e.g., strategic planning), and initiatives (e.g., efficient use of the swimming pool) and shared assumptions of the talent-development philosophy (e.g., long-term focus). The success of this organizational triangle was visible in the way the organizations increased the quality of talent development in the local swimming club.

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Intervening in a Messy Reality: A Case of Interorganizational Collaboration in Talent Development Within the Danish Sport System

Ole Winthereik Mathorne, Natalia Stambulova, and Kristoffer Henriksen

The overall aim of this paper is to share our experiences in development, implementation, and evaluation of an intervention designed for establishing interorganizational collaboration in talent development between a Danish sports club, a municipality, and a federation. Yet, despite a neat plan, we faced several challenges in what turned out to be a less successful intervention. The account is based on the first author’s field notes, informal interviews, and intervention debriefings. The professional philosophy of the research team was informed by the holistic ecological approach and an empowerment approach. We used the pyramid model for optimizing interorganizational collaboration in talent development as a framework to design and guide the 7-month intervention that included four workshops covering (a) initiation: building relationships; (b) exploration: foundation for the shared philosophy; (c) clarification: negotiating values and strategy; and (d) implementation: from talk to action. However, challenges (e.g., resignations of key stakeholders) led to program adjustments and, ultimately, termination. This paper shows the nuances of a less successful intervention, which can help practitioners plan and carry out better interventions in the future. Despite the challenges faced here, we still deem the pyramid model for optimizing interorganizational collaboration in talent development a valuable framework for practitioners working at an interorganizational level.

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Facilitating Sports and University Study: The Case of a Dual Career Development Environment in Sweden

Lukas Linnér, Natalia Stambulova, Louise Kamuk Storm, Andreas Kuettel, and Kristoffer Henriksen

This case study of a dual career development environment (DCDE) was informed by the holistic ecological approach (HEA) and aimed at (a) providing a holistic description of a DCDE at university level in Sweden and (b) investigating the perceived factors influencing the environment’s effectiveness in facilitating the development of student-athletes. The authors blended in situ observations, interviews, and document analysis to explore the case, and HEA-informed working models were transformed into empirical models summarizing the case. Findings show a well-coordinated DCDE with the key role of coaches in daily dual career support and how efforts were integrated through a dual career-support team sharing a philosophy of facilitating healthy performance development and life balance, with a whole-person and empowerment approach. This study adds to the literature by identifying features of a successful DCDE, and insights from the case can be useful for practitioners in their quest to optimize their DCDEs and support.

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Career Assistance to a Team in Crisis-Transition: An Intervention Case Study in Swedish Elite Handball

Johan Ekengren, Natalia Stambulova, Urban Johnson, Andreas Ivarsson, and Robert J. Schinke

In this paper, the authors share how a career assistance program was developed, implemented, and evaluated with a Swedish elite handball team. Within this case study, the initial version of the career assistance program’s content was created based on the career-long psychological support services in a Swedish handball framework and the first author’s applied experiences. During implementation, the head coach was terminated unexpectedly, and the team appeared in a crisis. This transitional situation led to modification of the career assistance program to help the players cope with changes. Eighteen players took part in eight workshops dealing with various aspects of their sport and nonsport life (e.g., performance, training, lifestyle, recovery, and future planning) with crisis-related issues (e.g., coping with uncertainty) incorporated. Mixed-methods evaluation revealed the players’ perceived increase in personal resources (awareness and skills) and decrease in stress and fatigue. Reflections on working in applied sport psychology from a holistic perspective in a dynamic real-life setting are provided.

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“Knowing That This Is My Place Is Very Positive”: The Case of a Swedish Table Tennis Club

Michaela Elisabeth Karlsson, Natalia B. Stambulova, and Kristoffer Henriksen

This case study is guided by the holistic ecological approach and aimed at (a) providing a holistic description of an athletic talent development environment using a table tennis club in Sweden as a case study and (b) examining the factors perceived as influential to the effectiveness of the club’s talent development. The holistic ecological approach’s two working models informed the data collection (through interviews, observation, and analysis of documents) and were subsequently transformed into empirical models, acting as a summary of the case. Findings revealed that the environment’s success in talent development can be seen as an outcome of the following key features: (a) flexible and supportive training groups, (b) opportunities to learn from senior elite athletes, (c) support through the club and sport-friendly schools, (d) support of the development of psychosocial skills, (e) regular and intensive training, (f) focus on long-term development and athletes as whole persons, (g) strong and coherent organizational culture centered around the basic assumption, “we are a community of committed members,” and (h) integrated efforts among the club and sport-friendly schools to support athletes’ development. This case study can inform other athletic talent development environments on how to optimize talent development processes.