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The Lived Experience of Physical Awkwardness: Adults’ Retrospective Views

David A. Fitzpatrick and E. Jane Watkinson

The investigation explored 12 adults’ past experiences of physical awkwardness. Hermeneutic phenomenology, a descriptive and interpretative methodology, uncovered feelings and meanings associated with childhood reminiscences of physical awkwardness, from 18 semi-structured interviews. Findings focus upon four themes, namely: “failing and falling,” “hurt and humiliation,” “worrying and wondering,” and seeking ways of “avoiding awkwardness” in the future. A heightened awareness of the subjective lived experience of those who are awkward in physical activity and sport situations would alert teachers, coaches, and others of the potential emotional and social consequences associated with it and the need to address the problem of physical awkwardness, in particular, during early growth, maturation, skill development, and learning.

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The Decision to Join Special Olympics: Parents’ Perspectives

Donna L. Goodwin, David A. Fitzpatrick, Robin Thurmeier, and Carol Hall

This phenomenological study explored the decision-making experience of parents whose children joined Special Olympics programs. The experiences of 16 families with children 10-22 years old were gathered through interviews, artifacts, and field notes. Three themes emerged from the thematic analysis (a) thoughtful instruction, (b) finding the fit, and (c) security of acceptance. Parents sought instructors who were interested in building relationships with their children and creating anxiety-free instructional environments for them. A good program fit occurred when instructors had expectations for motor skill development and increased independence. Parents also preferred environments that encouraged meaningful peer interactions. The findings were interpreted within the context of self-determination theory.