Paul Wylleman

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium ; TeamNL-Olympic Committee of the Netherlands

Paul Wylleman, Ph.D. Psychology (clinical psychology), is full-professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, teaching sport psychology, high performance management and mental support for talented and elite athletes. His research and publications focus on athletic transitions, dual career management and sport psychology support services. Paul is head of the university department Topsport and Study and the research group Sport Psychology and Mental Support. He is past-President of the European Federation of Sport Psychology (FEPSAC). For the past 25 years Paul provided support to talented, elite and Olympic athletes and coaches in individual and team sports, providing on-site support at Davis/FedCup, European and World Championships as well Olympic Games. Finally, since 2013 Paul is member of the High Performance Team of TeamNL (Olympic Committee of the Netherlands NOC*NSF) where he manages a team of elite sport lifestyle coaches, sport/performance psychologists, counseling and clinical psychologists, and psychiatrists in order to provide psychological support services to Olympic and Paralympic athletes and coaches. He was the team psychologist of TeamNL at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and will also be at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Psychological preparation for and support at the Olympic Games

Paul Wylleman

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

TeamNL-Olympic Committee of the Netherlands, Italy


While this time last year the road to the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games seemed to be ‘very straightforward’, the past eight to nine months have confronted not only athletes and coaches but (sport) psychologists with a growing array of (new) challenges. This presentation will start with illustrating one specific aspect of the psychological support of athletes, coaches and staff for the 2020 Games which had already been initiated in 2017, namely coping with the psychological impact of heat and high humidity before and during the Games. As COVID-19 and the measures taken to avoid infection started to impact elite sport during 2020, the process of psychological support was broadened with specific initiatives for athletes, coaches and staff on how to cope with its psychological impact. Several of these initiatives will be highlighted. In conclusion, this presentation will also reflect on how several factors related to the organization of the Games in 2021 may be of influence on the provision of on-site psychological support services