An Investigation of the Social Support Experiences of High-Level Sports Performers

in The Sport Psychologist
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  • 1 University of Exeter
  • 2 University of Wales, Bangor
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Lack of consensus regarding the nature and conceptual definition of the social support construct has led to a plethora of different forms of measurement of this psychosocial variable, many with psychometric limitations. Beyond the psychometric limitations of some measures, in sport there is also a need for measures to be relevant to the specific experiences of sports performers. In order to gain a greater understanding of the social support experiences of sports people, 10 high-level sports performers were interviewed regarding their experiences of social support. Principles of the grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) approach were adopted for analysis of their responses and insights. Four dimensions of support were generated, within each of which were comments relating to sport-specific support and comments relating to support not directly concerning the sport itself. The dimensions were labeled emotional, esteem, informational, and tangible. Example quotes are given to highlight each dimension of support, and implications for intervention are derived.

Tim Rees <> is with the School of Sport, Health, and Exercise Sciences at the University of Exeter, St. Luke’s Campus, Exeter EX1 2LU, UK; Lew Hardy is with the School of Sport. Health, and Exercise Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Tim Rees, Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, University of Exeter, St. Luke’s Campus, Heavitree Road, Exeter EX1 2LU, UK. E-mail: <>. Telephone: +44 1392 264726. Fax: +44 1392 264726.
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