Can Savouring be used in Elite Sport to Benefit Athletes?


Savouring is a mental strategy involving the deliberate and intentional upregulation of positive affect (Bryant, 2021). This happiness amplification technique boosts and maximizes preferred emotions making them last. Savouring outside of sport has shown benefits in health and well-being, gratefulness, appreciation, strengthening of relationships, building of competence, and resilience (Borelli et al., 2020; Klibert et al., 2022; Smith et al., 2019). Using savouring develops adaptive emotional regulation (Gregory et al., 2023) and may be beneficial for creating positivity in elite athletes during the difficult mental struggles and uncertainty of experience that occurs within high-pressure sport environments. This study examined the feasibility of a savouring-focused intervention in elite adolescent tennis athletes. These elite athletes (N = 14) were recruited from Taylor Tennis Academy, the Manitoba Provincial and Canada Games Teams. Athletes participated in a savouring-focused intervention in which they attended an in-person psychoeducational session, tracked savouring for 7 days, and completed 3 online surveys. Exploratory surveys were conducted pre-intervention, post-intervention, and 30-day post-intervention. A subgroup of athletes (n = 5) participated in a semi-structured interview. Results showed that the savouring-focused intervention increased savouring scores and positive emotions, while decreasing stress levels and negative emotions. Elite adolescent athletes savoured tennis most by 1) imagining success 2) being grateful and 3) showing good feelings. Athletes reported that learning savouring was beneficial and plan to incorporate this mental strategy into their routines. This study provides preliminary evidence that savouring-focused interventions should be implemented within elite sport.