The Power of Self-Compassion

26 Oct 2023
3 min read
Author – Vedika Jogani

A recent graduate from Ithaca College with a Master’s degree in Sports and Exercise Science, specializing in Mental Performance, Vedika is OMP’s Product and Content Manager. During her studies, Vedika worked closely with Ithaca’s Men’s and Women’s Tennis Teams and Women’s Volleyball Team as their Mental Performance Consultant. Vedika is currently completing her Certified Mental Performance Consultant Certification.

In the competitive world of sports, the dynamics of personality traits plays a significant role in an adult’s behavior on and off the field.

A new study titled, ‘Narcissism and Antisocial Behavior in Sport: The Moderating Role of Self-Compassion‘ has delved into the interplay between narcissism, antisocial behavior and self-compassion.  

Understanding Narcissism and Antisocial Behavior 

Narcissism is characterized by excessive self-love and lack of empathy from others. This has an impact on an athlete’s interactions within a team and approach to competition. Narcissism coupled with anti-social behavior encompasses actions that violate social norms. In a sporting environment, it can create toxic team cultures hindering teamwork and camaraderie.  

The Role of Self-Compassion 

Self-compassion encompasses three core concepts:  

  1. Self-kindness: Being kind to oneself when experiencing a difficult time. 
  1. Common Humanity: Know you are not alone in your situations and others have experienced similar situations as you.  
  1. Mindfulness: Describing your situation in an objective and non-judgmental manner.  

Athletes with higher levels of self-compassion tend to approach their mistakes and shortcomings with understanding and forgiveness fostering a positive self-image, and a reduced likelihood of engaging in harmful behavior.

This study found that athletes with higher self-compassion demonstrated a reduced likelihood of engaging in negative conduct. The findings of this study suggest that self-compassion acts as a protective factor reducing the impact of narcissism and anti-social behavior.  

For Coaches 

Coaches can play a pivotal role in promoting self-compassion with athletes through encouraging mindfulness, while self-reflective strategies as part of training regimens can help foster these feelings of self-compassion.

Self-compassion plays an important role in an athlete’s well-being. These have ripple effects on team culture and thereby performances. Coaches and athletes must recognize the positive effects of empathy, kindness and mindfulness in an athlete’s journey.  

The research on narcissism, antisocial behavior, and self-compassion in sports has illuminated the intricate relationship between these psychological factors.

By acknowledging the presence of narcissistic traits and proactively nurturing self-compassion, athletes can not only improve their own well-being but also contribute to a more positive and inclusive sporting environment.

Coaches and athletes must recognize the importance of empathy, kindness, and mindfulness in fostering a sports culture where mutual respect and cooperation thrive.

Through these efforts, the sporting community can move towards a future where athletes not only excel in their physical abilities but also in their emotional intelligence, creating a truly enriching and supportive athletic experience for everyone involved. 


Zhang, S., Roberts, R., Akehurst, S., & Woodman, T. (2024). Narcissism and antisocial behaviour in sport: The moderating role of self-compassion. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 70, 102528. 



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