Through narrative methodology this study explores the processes and consequences of identity development among young elite athletes, with particular reference to the influence of sport culture. We focus on life stories of two elite male athletes, recounting significant moments from their lives analyzed through the lens of narrative theory. Our findings offer insights into three strands of sport psychology literature. First, responding to calls for a cultural sport psychology, our study reveals how elite sport culture shapes psychological processes of identity development. Second, it shows how the origins of a potentially problematic athletic identity are seeded in early sport experiences, shedding light on how athletic identity is developed or resisted. Finally, it extends previous narrative research into the lives of female professional golfers, documenting how comparable processes unfold among male athletes in other sports, deepening understanding of how cultural narratives influence behavior and life choices.
David Carless and Kitrina Douglas
Kitrina Douglas and David Carless
The dominant narrative within the literature on elite sport is characterised by a total focus on performance. Scholars in other areas have noted how although alternatives to the dominant narrative exist they are often silenced and fail to reach the public domain. Drawing on interviews with seven women professional tournament golfers, we explored the narratives women use to make sense of their experiences in elite sport. We present three narratives which illustrate the existence of alternatives to the dominant performance narrative among Europe’s most outstanding women golfers. Two alternatives are identified: a discovery narrative and a relational narrative. These findings suggest that diverse routes to success are possible in women’s professional sport. We discuss the educational and social implications of the alternative narratives in an effort to encourage discussion and debate among athletes, administrators, coaches, sports psychologists, and educators.
Andrew C. Sparkes and Kitrina Douglas
As part of the emergence of new writing practices in the social sciences, qualitative researchers have begun to harness the potential of poetic representations as a means of analyzing social worlds and communicating their findings to others. To date, however, this genre has received little attention in sport psychology. The purpose of this article, therefore, is to raise awareness and generate discussion about poetic representations. First, the potential benefits of using this genre are outlined. Next, based on interview data from a study that explored the motivations of elite female golfers, the process of constructing a poetic representation about the experiences of one of the participants is described. The products of this endeavor and the reactions of various audiences to it are then presented. Finally, the issue of judging poetic representations is discussed.