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This paper presents a case study of an elite female coach and her career termination from a 20+ year career following a critical life incident. A novel autobiographical approach was adopted whereby the participant undertook expressive writing to describe her experiences before, during, and following coaching an athlete at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Thematic analysis indicated seven phases related to the participant’s experiences of the critical incident: Build up to the event, the event, the aftermath, recovery and reflection on the event, sampling of new avenues, enlightenment, and career rebirth. The findings reinforce the high demands placed upon elite coaches, the subsequent threats to physical and mental well-being, and the importance of having robust psychological skills and suitable social support to cope with these demands. Implications for preparing and supporting coaches for successful career transition are discussed.
Kenttä is with the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden. Mellalieu is with the Cardiff School of Sport, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, UK.