Factors Influencing the Process of Withdrawal by Female Adolescents from the Role of Competitive Age Group Swimmer

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Barbara A. Brown The University of Western Ontario

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The high attrition rates observed among young athletes, particularly adolescents, have been attributed to and studied primarily as outcomes of negative aspects of the organization and administration of competitive youth sport. The present study extends this research by examining withdrawal from competitive sport roles in the broader context of the role constellation and lifestyle of adolescent girls. A conceptual framework was developed to examine the process of withdrawal from the role of competitive age group swimmer. It was hypothesized that withdrawal is influenced by six categories of factors: (a) the salience of gender-role stereotypes; (b) the diversity and salience of the opportunity set; (c) the degree of social support from significant others for the sport role; (d) the extent to which the athlete role is perceived as central to personal identity; (e) the extent to which positive and negative outcomes are associated with sport involvement; and (f) the degree of commitment to the athlete role. Survey data were collected from 211 former swimmers and 193 currently involved age group swimmers in Ontario, Canada. It was concluded that a combination of factors from a variety of sources interact to influence the role transition.

Direct all correspondence to Barbara A. Brown, Faculty of Physical Education, University of Western Ontario, London, Ont., Canada N6A 3K7.
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