Professional Coaches of Finland

Putting the well-being of coaches first

13.02.2023 | SAVALnews


For more than 20 years, surveys and investigations have been conducted to investigate job satisfaction, with coaches, here in Finland, by the Professional Coaches of Finland (SAVAL), the Research Institute for Olympic Sports (KIHU), but also abroad by numerous researchers and research projects, targeting sport coaches, elite and high-performance coaches, volunteer coaches, female coaches, high-school coaches, collegiate coaches, university coaches, athletic trainers, but also health care professionals, such as nurses and doctors, managers, construction workers, teachers, and many more professions.

These investigations have become necessary because an alarming rate of coaches is quitting the coaching profession because of burnout, depression and facing too many stressors in their work to be able to cope with (Olusoga, Butt & Maynard (2010); Thelwell, Weston & Greenless (2010); McNeill, Durand-Bush & Lemyre (2018); Hägglund, Kenttä, Thelwell & Wagstaff (2019); Ackeret et al. (2022)).

A common result of the research was an apparent conflict between work-family life, a clear connection between job demands and burnout, feelings of exhaustion, tiredness, but also frustration and stress.

A coaches’ well-being is mainly challenged through a challenging coordination of coaching activities with civilian life, the workload they are facing, additional tasks that they loaded onto them in addition to coaching, a lack of a clear job or role description, travels, and many other factors negatively impacting the coaches’ well-being (Altfeld et al. 2018; Hassmén et a. 2019; Olusoga et la. 2019; Ackeret et al. 2022).

Coaches' stressors

Stressors coaches are facing can be grouped into three main categories: organizational, competitive and personal stressors (Thelwell et al. 2010). Stressors are emotional and physical demands on the coach through their coaching work.

Organizational stressors

  • Role conflict
  • Administrative duties
  • Excessive work demands
  • Irregular working hours
  • Unpredictable work peaks
  • Organizational stressors:
    • Managerial conflicts
    • Lack of financial assistance
    • Teaching duties
    • Pressure from organization to produce positive results
    • Conflicts between staff members
    • Multiple tasks
    • Travel
    • Weekend games
    • Lack of communication
    • Expectations from organization

Competitive stressors:

  • Managing athletes’ needs and lives
  • Professionalism
  • Unable to control lives of team staff
  • Negative performance results by athletes
  • Competition
  • Athlete injuries
  • Intrusion of media
  • Lack of athlete and team discipline
  • Expectations from athletes, team staff and parents
  • Selection issues
  • Recruitment

Personal stressors:

  • Sacrificing personal time
  • Worrying what others think about them
  • Overload
  • Not enough time for family or friends
  • Low or Non-existent job security
  • Expectations from family and friends
  • Irregular working hours
  • Not enough time for family and friends
  • Financial issues


Summary of an article by Dr. Frauke Kubischta, who is is an experienced Coach Developer and educator. In the autumn meeting of SAVAL in November 2022 she was elected as a Member of the Board. She has also been a member of the Finnish Coaches Association (Suomen Valmentajat) since 2011.

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