17th Annual ECSS-Congress, Bruges 2012

Abstract details

Abstract-ID: 1141
Session: [OP-PM42] Supplementation & Performance
Lecture room: Auditorium
Date & time: 05.07.2014 / 08:30 - 10:00
Title of the paper: Breaking waves: The within-career transitions experienced by a high performance adolescent swimmer.
Authors: Lyons, D., MacPhail, A.
Institution: University of Limerick
Department: Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences
Country: Ireland
Abstract text Introduction An athletic career is determined by developments within sporting, psychological, psychosocial and academic/vocational domains (Wylleman & Lavallee, 2004). Within-career transitions are turning phases in the course of an athletic career (Stambulova, Alfermann, Statler, & Côté, 2009). Alongside transitions that can be expected, such as the move from junior to elite-level sport, athletes also face less predictable transitions such as the loss of a coach. The aim of this study is to explore the within-career transitions experienced by an adolescent high performance swimmer, Kelli, as she made the transition from school to university. Methodology This exploratory case study employed a life history methodology. The study began with the use of a retrospective life history grid (adapted from Côté, Ericsson, and Law, 2005) to trace Kelli’s development in sport. Over the next two years data from qualitative interviews and observations were collected to gain an insight into Kelli’s life, her choices, decisions and their consequences. The results were analysed using a constant comparative method of inductive data coding. Findings During the two years of the study Kelli experienced a number of transitions both planned and unpredicted across all the domains of her athletic career including the move from junior to senior level sport, the loss of a coach, a change of club, the move from school to university, injury and the maturation from adolescence into young adulthood. Kelli’s micro-system consisting of herself, her parents, coaches and peers, and their interaction, were the main facilitators in her successful negotiation of the transitions experienced. As Kelli had made decisions on her future academic life based on her swimming goals the loss of her coach and the subsequent move to a new club resulted in her changing her choice of university and programme of study. Negotiating multiple transitions concurrently was a major source of stress for Kelli. Conclusion Using in-depth case studies to explore the transitions experienced by talented young athletes can help us understand the complexities of athletes’ decision making and the ultimate consequences that play out. Macro levels, contextual factors such as the sports system, cultural factors and education policy played a significant role in how Kelli, and her parents, coach and peers made decisions that impacted on her athlete career. These contextual factors need to be considered when designing programmes for young talented athletes to facilitate development, reduce talent loss and maximise athletes’ potential. References Côté,J., Ericsson,K.A. & Law,M.P. (2005). J Appl Sport Psychol,17,1-19. Stambulova,N., Alfermann, D., Statler,T., & Côté,J. (2009). IJSEP, 7, 395 - 412. Wylleman,P., & Lavallee,D. (2004) in M. Weiss (Ed.), Developmental sport psychology, 507-527.
Topic: Psychology
Keyword I: Transitions
Keyword II: Athletic career
Keyword III: talent development