Personality, Training & Leadership: Training

I’ve just realised that I spent a long time tearing my hair out on the dissertation for my masters, and haven’t ever talked about it on the Mighty Pucks. The title was examining the interactive effects of athlete personality and coach transformational leadership upon athlete training behaviours which is not only a horror to write, I had to spit that out during a speech too!  It was important to research this – not just to finish my degree – because each area has been researched but nobody has really connected the dots.


A top level athlete will spend the majority of their time in training, rather than actually competing. Take Usain Bolt who competes for 9.6 seconds – he obviously spends a significantly longer amount of time training to hit those speeds. In fact, it’s said that more than ten years of practice is needed to compete at an international level.

Olympic athletes have reported that, among other factors, training needs to be of the highest quality to be integral to success, and professional golfers have cited meticulous planning and training as big contributors to their sporting achievements. Talent can only take an athlete so far – yet despite understanding that training is a necessary step too greatness, it has been under researched.

A quality of training inventory was developed by researchers (led by an incredible lecturer of mine who turns statistics from a nightmare to a dream for me!) that tapped into three main areas: distractibility, coping with adversity, and quality of preparation. They developed using a questionnaire called the test of performance strategies (TOPS-2) which examines strategies employed in both training and competitions, such as self-talk, imagery, emotional control, and goal setting.


Now this study was a great starting block for my dissertation because it examined the relationship between these three training behaviours and the big 5 factors of personality. Personality is consistently related to training behaviours. It should have been quite obvious, even if you know the basics about personality. An extraverted individual is said to constantly be seeking external stimulation – if the training environment is boring then they will become more easily distracted by talking to others, messing around etc. Secondly, people who good emotional stability are more capable of coping with adversity – they don’t have a meltdown when things don’t go their way in training/competition. And lastly, conscientious individuals – the people who are meticulous in their work – had the highest quality of preparation.