Female Athletes’ Experiences of Positive Growth Following Deselection in Sport

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 University of Stirling
  • 2 University of Alberta
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The purpose of this study was to explore female athletes’ experiences of positive growth following deselection from provincial sport teams. Interviews were conducted with 18 women (Mage = 22.45 years, SD = 1.38) who were deselected from provincial soccer, ice hockey, and volleyball teams as adolescents. Interpretative phenomenological analysis methodology was used. The analysis was guided by Tedeschi and Calhoun’s model of posttraumatic growth. Results showed that participants questioned their identity and ability as athletes following deselection. Growth was a gradual process that unfolded over several years, experienced through a greater appreciation of the role of sport in the participants’ lives and sport becoming a priority, an enhanced sense of personal strength, developing closer social relationships, and a recognition of new and other opportunities. These findings show that cognitive processes and social relationships are critical components in the process of positive growth.

Neely is with the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland. Dunn, McHugh, and Holt are with the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada, as was Neely at the time of the study.

Neely (kacey.neely@stir.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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