Ida Emilia Backman

Ida Emilia Backman

PhD fellow

The aim of my PhD project is to gain understanding of the role of compassion in elite sports environments. While the role of self-compassion in athletes has been investigated, there is little knowledge about the role of compassion on an environmental or organizational level. Adopting a compassionate approach is a new idea in elite sports, which suggests that we should develop definitions, concepts and methods that fit elite sport as context. First, we need to understand how compassion is defined and how (if) it is utilized in these environments. Only after gaining better understanding of the role of compassion, as well as fears, barriers and resistances to compassion, can we move on to create, establish and improve compassionate environments for elite athletes. In doing so, we hope to increase the knowledge of how best support athletes and benefit both performance and well-being.

The project, in collaboration with Team Denmark, will be divided into two parts

  • Compassion in elite sports environments: The first part will be an exploratory and descriptive. There is limited available research on compassion in the elite sports environment, specifically on giving compassion to others and receiving compassion from others. The aim will be to examine the role of compassion in these environments today, what needs and forms of compassion and what barriers to compassion exist in the current environments. The first study will be a quantitative study targeting athletes. In this study, we aim to investigate the relationship between how athletes perceive their coach’s compassionate qualities and their performance and well-being. The second study will be a qualitative study targeting coaches. In this study, we aim to gain a better understanding of the current role of compassion in elite sports environments. The coaches’ perspective has not been investigated previously and therefore this study focuses on how the coaches perceive and define compassion, and (if) how they implement it in their coaching. In addition, it is vital to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms of fears, resistances and barriers to compassion, and how these may be overcome.
  • To develop compassion: The second part of the project will consist of evaluating a compassion-based leadership program for elite level coaches.


Elective course 'Introduction to Sports and eSports Psychology' at The University of Copenhagen 

- Spring 2022

- Spring 2023  

ID: 297279694