Training process individualizing by athlete-coach-psychologist triad synergy

Corresponding Member of RAE, Dr.Sc.Psych., Professor B.A. Vyatkin1
Dr.Hab., Professor, PhD V.V. Markelov1
Dr.Hab., Professor Yu.V. Sysoev2
PhD, Professor Yu.V. Kraev3
1Perm State Humanitarian Pedagogical University, Perm
2Moscow State Pedagogical University, Moscow
3Moscow Aviation Institute (National Research University), Moscow

Keywords: psychologist, coach, athlete, subjectivity, creative self-improvement, harmonization, cooperation, individualization, integral individuality, sport selection, dependability, individual style, mental conditioning.

Background. Modern psychological support service is increasingly recognized in the elite sports with their popular appreciation, motivational and mental control related aspects and challenges. A core mission of a sport psychologist is to support coaches, athletes and service personnel in the personality development, sport progress and motivational agendas, with every goal attained in close cooperation with the coaches and athletes on a sound interpersonal communication basis via dialogues, problem identification and solutions and the training process customization and individualization efforts. The coach-athlete-psychologist triad may be rather efficient in identification of the progress issues, their origins and factors to find timely and effective solutions. 
Objective of the study was to give theoretical and practical grounds for the synergy of athlete, coach and psychologist as the key actors of an individualized training process.
Results and discussion. Given on Figure 1 hereunder is the sporting process actors’ interaction chart designed to attain the expected competitive goals, with athlete viewed as the first contributor to the cooperation; coach as the second contributor responsible for the training system design and management; and psychologist comprising the third element of the triad responsible for the theoretical and practical support to the coach and athlete. Progress monitoring system comprises the fourth element of the chart to reflect variations in the athlete’s personality, functionality and the physical/ mental progress. The four elements for the interaction chart are connected by direct ties and feedbacks.
The chart is also influenced by a variety of outside interests (with their specific goals and missions) and the internal ones i.e. subjective visions of the desirable future accomplishments by every actor in the triad. Thus the specific competitive goals and missions may be set for the coach and athlete by the sport club, federation and/or sport community, with the ways to attain the goals discussed and determined by the triad. The nearest and further goals and missions will be set in the interaction process based on the athlete’s integral physical and mental fitness tests to draft the most promising competitive schedules and identify the individual progress path in the context of the core goals with the relevant injury prevention, progress correction and other tools. It is via the creative dialogue that the coach, athlete and psychologist will jointly find the ways to attain the short- and long-term competitive goals.

Figure 1. Sporting process actors’ (athlete-coach-psychologist) interaction chart

Such triune synergy may be successful only when the personality prioritizing principle is favored i.e. the parties are driven by healthy humanistic standards and great mutual respect and trust in applying the most efficient communication technologies and solutions for success. The psychologist will assist the coach in the efforts to establish the latter’s charismatic authority and win the athlete’s trust in his/her great professional competence, skills and managerial qualities. The psychologist will also be highly respected by the coach and athlete for his/her professional competencies, charisma and humanistic attitudes; and need to be particularly proficient in the emotional and behavioral control aspects to successfully build up the interpersonal businesslike and friendly cooperation as provided by V.R. Malkin and L.N. Rogalyova (2010).
One more key condition for the due synergy of the training and psychological service is the individualization principle that means that the productive cooperation shall be as sensitive as possible to the personal needs and expectations of the athlete in the context of his/her life experience and lifestyle, social surrounding, morphological, functional, neurodynamic, mental, meta-individual and other personal qualities and traits. Our training and psychological service concept is designed to both secure the best provisions for the athlete’s creative self-fulfillment and meet the need for the efficient progress programs and technologies designed on an individualized basis. The triune synergy model offers, among other things, a mix of mental conditioning (individual and group) tools optional for the athlete.
In terms of the training system contents, the triune synergy is designed to shape up the athlete’s personality on an integrated basis to mobilize his/her self-analyzing, self-identification and self-development agendas and resources to maximize the individual creative self-fulfillment.
In the procedural terms, the training model is designed to shape up a healthy and productive attitude of the athlete to the psychological support service with mutual trust and effective cooperation in the coach-athlete-psychologist triad. The psychological support will give the coach and athlete an insight into and understanding of the training and competitive process individualization model and its benefits, with the individualization classifiable into the following three domains.
The first individualization domain refers to the sporting specialization based first and foremost on the stable (mostly genetically predetermined) mental and physical traits of the athlete (biochemical, morphological, functional, neurodynamic, mental etc.). It should be emphasized that the contributions of these inborn qualities to the competitive progress and stability are generally sport-specific. Thus the nervous system control is ranked high among the factors of the competitive performance stability in modern martial arts; while the nervous lability is highly important for success in biathlon and competitive orienteering; with the dynamic qualities favored by basketball; and the CNS plasticity and alertness appreciated by biathlon and judo. Neurotic reactivity may be among the success hampering factors in basketball; and impulsiveness is considered counterproductive in biathlon. Competitive performance dependability was found correlated with some neural and mental dynamic qualities and their combinations. Thus the competitive performance in modern biathlon is closely dependent on a due mix of the relevant neural and mental qualities including the CNS activity, lability, inhibition as the positive factors and impulsiveness as the negative factor. The competitive performance in judo was found highly dependent on mobility of the nervous processes and some features of the individual temperament including its plasticity, activity and reasonably low reactivity. In modern basketball the competitive performance is facilitated by the nervous system power, mobility and dynamicity with reasonable immunity to neurotic reactions.
The second individualization domain implies the motivations being efficiently managed so as to prioritize the competitions by importance with due mental control in the context of the individual traits of each athlete. As found by B.A. Vyatkin, G.V. Lozhkin and V.F. Ryabokon (2002); B.A. Vyatkin and V.V. Markelov (2010); and B.A. Vyatkin (2015), the athletes who differ in motivations, nervous system traits and temperaments may be equally successful in competitions.
And the third individualization domain is geared to understand, analyze and effectively apply the individual mental control and balancing mechanisms for the competitive success. The psychologist’s and coach’s mission in this domain is to develop the best individualized recommendations to help the athlete build up the mental controls and defenses so as to keep the optimal physical and mental fitness for competitions. Modern mental conditioning and control toolkits are rather versatile in terms of the psychological education and mental balancing methods, models and technologies. Thus the Perm psychological research school gives a special priority to the individual performance style as the most promising and universal background for the training process individualization initiatives (V.S. Merlin, 1986; B.A. Vyatkin and M.R. Shukin, 2013). It is believed that a well-styled performance facilitates the athlete’s adaptation to any situation with the deficient individual qualities/ skills being successfully compensated by a variety of other ones. A systemic approach to the training system individualization in every of the above domains will secure success of the psychological and training process.
Conclusion. Methods and toolkit of the synergized triune cooperation model are geared to help every actor concentrate on the self-improvement, self-exploring, self-identification, self-control and self-integration goals to efficiently contribute to the training process efficiency. The prudent integration and individualization of the triune efforts will help design an individual progress strategy for every athlete and mobilize, on a systemic, synergized and mental conditioning prioritizing basis, creative resource for success of the teamwork.


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The article analyzes the ways to individualize and harmonize the training process by the synergy of athlete, coach and psychologist as the key process actors; applies the individuality integration theory to design the synergized triune cooperation model to efficiently mobilize the individual creative resources; and outlines the key avenues for the individualized training service to secure good progress with every domain of an integrated individuality being activated and harmonized. Methods and toolkit of the synergized triune cooperation model are geared to help every actor concentrate on the self-improvement, self-exploring, self-identification, self-control and self-integration goals to efficiently contribute to the training process efficiency. The prudent integration and individualization of the triune efforts will help design an individual progress strategy for every athlete and mobilize, on a systemic, synergized and mental conditioning prioritizing basis, creative resource for success of the teamwork.