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This study examined decision-making processes in response to athletic career change-events (e.g., injury, field position change). Athletes’ (N = 338) initial strategic decisions whether to address or ignore a change-event, and their subsequent decisions whether to make the required change were measured using the Change-Event Inventory (Samuel & Tenenbaum, 2011b). Athletes reported a high tendency of making a strategic decision to consult with others, which could be predicted from the event’s perceived significance and availability of professional support. Athletes also reported a high tendency of making a subsequent decision to change, which could be predicted from the helpfulness of support, motivation for change, and certain coping strategies. The two types of decisions were related. Perceived outcome of the change process and athletes’ motivation could also be accurately predicted. In conclusion, to effectively cope with change-events athletes need to feel involved, be in control, and make independent decisions that reflect their genuine needs and wishes.
Samuel and Tenenbaum are with the Dept. of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL.