Facilitating the Transition out of Professional Baseball Following Release: A Self-Determination Theory Perspective

in The Sport Psychologist
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  • 1 West Virginia University
  • 2 Pittsburgh Pirates
  • 3 The University of Tennessee
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Approximately 90% of players in Minor League Baseball will be released at some point in their career. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore the role of individuals’ basic psychological needs during the release from professional baseball and throughout their subsequent transition to a new career. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 former Minor League Baseball players. Thematic analysis generated four themes: (a) The release resulted in immediate but temporary basic psychological need thwarting, (b) the “liberating experience” of the release allowed individuals to perceive autonomy in the transition out of affiliated baseball, (c) perceptions of competence served as the foundation for a positive transition to a new career, and (d) meaningful connections fostered individuals’ perception of relatedness in the transition out of affiliated baseball. The findings suggest that need fulfillment might act as a buffer between potential stressors in the transition process and athletes’ cognitive, emotional, and behavioral response.

Raabe is with the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA. Bass is with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh, PA, USA. McHenry and Zakrajsek are with the Dept. of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA.

Raabe (johannes.raabe@mail.wvu.edu) is corresponding author.

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