Career termination among greek female elite athletes

Por: David Lavallee, Katerina Patsourakou e Sophia Jowett.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Introduction

The termination of a high profile athletic career influences some athletes negatively in terms of struggling to find a "new" self-identity [1], and some others positively in that adjustment to post-athletic life is achieved with no apparent difficulty [2], [3]. So, why do some athletes succeed in having a well-adjusted post-athletic career while others fail? The purpose of this study is to examine the subjective experiences of Greek female former elite athletes during the transition from being active members of a Greek national team to terminating a successful athletic career.

Methods

A qualitative research design was utilized. A semi-structured interview of 62 questions was developed in order to generate data relevant to career termination issues. Specifically, the questions formed, based on the conceptual model of career termination put forward by Taylor and Ogilvie [4]. A sample of 6 Greek female former elite athletes participated in the study. The participants performed in track and field athletics and achieved success in Greek, Balkan and European Championships. The obtained data was analysed using a deductive-inductive approach and following content analysis procedures.

Results

Thematic categories emerged relevant to causes for career termination were problems with coach and issues with sport community (e.g., athletic federation), burnout and drug abuse. Thematic categories related to adaptation to career termination, included among others, relationship issues linked to support with coach and family. Finally, in terms of the quality of adaptation the main thematic categories were, adjustment difficulties (e.g. lack of interest outside sport)  and occupational/financial difficulties.

Discussion / Conclusions

The findings support the main components of Taylor and Ogilvie’s model. Moreover, our findings provide rich information relevant to what it is contained in each of these components. Overall, the findings suggest that Greek female elite athletes in track and field athletics find it difficult to adjust to life after sport. Interestingly, it transpires that athletes who stayed in touch with their coach and the sport environment more generally, experienced a better adaptation to post-sport life.

 

References

[1]. Zaichkowsky, L., King, E., & McCarthy, J. (2000). Career transitions in sport. Morgantown,

WV: FIT

[2]. Coackley, J. J. (1983) Quest, 35, 1-11.

[3]. Curtis, J. & Ennis, R. (1988). Soc. of Sp. J., 5, 87-106.

[4]. Taylor, J., & Ogilvie, B. C. (1994). J. of Appl. Sp. Ps. 6, 1-20. 

Acknowledgement

This research is part of a larger research project and is funded by the Hellenic Olympic Committee, Subcommittee of Women and Sport.

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