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Sport represents a "natural lab" that allows the study of human behaviors and attitudes in contexts of adversity and challenges. In sports, the individual is in fact called upon to put into practice and maximize a series of psychological resources and talents to cope with external pressures (Sarkar & Fletcher, 2012; Gould, Dieffenbach, & Moffett, 2002). In the field of sport psychology, the use of the resilience paradigm focuses on the adaptive role of resources and responses of individuals to the potential risks associated with stressful events (Fletcher & Sarkar, 2012).

Therefore, sports become a promoter of resilience, since they share three main aspects: the presence of challenges and adversities; the discovery of resources to cope with; and personal growth. Hence, sport can take on the function of a gym, allowing the individual to approach difficulties in a protected context, within a sport center that represents a safe place, with a coach capable of accompanying them in the process; and with a team that instills confidence and motivation. And it is precisely the balance between challenges and relationships that allows the athlete to perform optimally. As a result, he/she can start walking down a path of increasing physical and mental skills, technical abilities and identity structure. Resilience is a process that allows the person to face the difficulties of life by leveraging their internal resources (self-confidence, problem-solving abilities, sociability...) and external factors (family ties, school, friends...). This process can be supported by the action of professionals who work in close contact with the individual, namely coaches, teachers, educators, social workers, psychologists…. These operators can, through educational action, promote, strengthen and support the process of resilience at the individual level, thus assuming the role of Resilience Trainers.

Drawing upon these assumptions, the Resilience Research Unit (RiRes) has studied, set up and methodologically validated the "Resilience and Sport" training program, aimed at training sports figures that can trigger and sustain resilient processes.

The “Resilience Trainer” program provides a first training cycle aimed at transferring theoretical and practical knowledge that allows coaches to promote the resilience of children, young people and adults through sport. At the end of the training, coaches and trainers jointly design an action plan, which is subsequently implemented by sport practitioners. Then, sport professionals are involved in a second follow-up training workshop in order to assess the first module and revise the action plan. Finally, during a final meeting, operators identify what are the operational guidelines of the Resilience Trainer to operationalize and apply with final recipients.

The "Resilience and Sport" training model was defined via round tables involving teachers and researchers of the Faculty of Psychology and Physical Education of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore.

This model includes the following training modules:


  • From resistance to resilience: the theoretical model of “supercompensation”

  • Vulnerability, trauma and resilience: the cathartic action of sport 

  • The change of perspective: from discomfort to resources

    • The “I can, I have, I am” paradigm

    • Sport as an instrument to strengthen identity 

    • Identity, self-esteem and self-efficacy

    • Be strategic: creativity and different action plans

  • The Resilience Trainer

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