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.
Göran Kenttä, Stephen Mellalieu, and Claire-Marie Roberts
Pia-Maria Wippert and Jens Wippert
As career termination is an incisive event in life, it is therefore important to understand the effects of different types of retirement on an athlete’s biography. Thus, the present longitudinal study is concerned with the effects of career termination of professional national team-athletes on the development of psychopathological symptoms, locus of control, self-concept, and mood, with special consideration of the mediator variable “subjective control of event-onset.” Data were collected from 42 professional athletes (17 of whom experienced an unexpected dismissal and 4 voluntarily retired) using standardized questionnaires (SCL-90-R, ASTS, FKK) 10 days before event entrance (baseline-test), 10 days after, 3 weeks after, and 5.5 months after onset of career termination. Although the baseline data did not reveal personality differences between the groups, dismissed athletes showed significantly stronger psychological distress after event onset. They displayed a stronger initial reaction, a more severe crisis, and longer transition periods than the control group. Results are discussed in connection with the combination of social evaluative threat and forced failure during event onset and their strong effects on distress after career termination.
Pia-Maria Wippert and Jens Wippert
Undesired career termination represents a critical life event for professional athletes. This study examined traumatic stress resulting from (a) a career-ending event and (b) the athlete’s separation from his or her social support network. Data were collected from 40 professional athletes who were members of the German National Ski Team, using standardized (Impact of Event Scale; Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale) and partially standardized (psychosomatic stress reaction) questionnaires. Correlations between the impact of termination and traumatic stress symptoms were observed over a period of 8 months. Athletes who experienced supportive termination (involving discussion with coaches) endorsed fewer symptoms than those who experienced socially disintegrative termination (lacking support of coaches). Nearly 20% of participants endorsed clinically relevant levels of traumatic stress at 3 and 8 months posttermination.
Monika Grygorowicz, Martyna Michałowska, Paulina Jurga, Tomasz Piontek, Honorata Jakubowska, and Tomasz Kotwicki
girls quitting football prematurely. Thus, this study was designed to analyze what are the main causes that make female players quit playing football. The aim of the study was to find the reasons for sports career termination in female football players in country-specific conditions. We hypothesize that
At some point, elite athletes will undoubtedly find themselves in a situation when their active elite career is finished. Career termination is one of the various naturally occurring transition phases elite athletes encounter, and career transitions often affect several parts of life at different
Judy L. Van Raalte and Mark B. Andersen
The authors focus on many of the complex issues that sport psychologists face when working with athletes through the process of leaving sport. They briefly review the literature on career termination to serve as a foundation for a discussion of the effects that an athlete’s career termination can have on teammates, family, and the self. The authors also explore the issue of bias and prejudice. People intimately involved in sport (sport psychologists included) often have a prejudice toward sport relative to other possible activities or goals. This bias might influence how sport psychologists listen to, interpret, and formulate athlete cases. Case examples are used to highlight the difficulties of identifying career-termination concerns and the professional and personal tensions that come with making sport career changes. With care, sport psychologists can manage career termination and related issues and effectively address the health and happiness of the athletes they serve.
Ronald L. Kamm
Like the sports medicine physician, the sport psychiatrist plays an important role in the sports medicine team (SMT). A specialist in diagnosing emotional disorders can increase the diagnostic and treatment capabilities of the SMT. The goal of this article is to increase awareness of the psychiatric disorders commonly occurring among athletes and highlight the value of accurate psychiatric diagnosis. Using vignettes involving established athletes, the article examines anxiety and mood disorders, eating disorders, substance use disorders, and attention deficit disorder as they occur in athletic settings, as well as other syndromes with particular relevance to athletes, such as overtraining and postconcussion syndrome. Other clinical issues encountered while working with athletes, including learning disabilities and career termination concerns, are also discussed. Finally, the basic concepts of transference and countertransference are reviewed to highlight important relational dynamics between the athlete and the SMT.
The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the effectiveness of a life development intervention on career transition adjustment in retired professional athletes. Intervention (n = 32) and control groups (n = 39) were recruited for this study, both of which contained recently retired male professional soccer players. Data were collected on measures of career termination adjustment and coping with transitions, and the intervention group also participated in a life development intervention package. Results revealed significant postintervention treatment group differences on career transition adjustment in favor of the life development intervention, while significant within-group differences on career transition adjustment over time were also achieved for the intervention group. Results are discussed in relation to the personal and developmental costs of pursuing performance excellence.
Sine Agergaard and Tatiana V. Ryba
With rising globalization and professionalization within sports, athletes are increasingly migrating across national borders to take up work, and their athletic and nonathletic development is thereby shaped and lived in different countries. Through the analysis of interviews with female professional transnational athletes, this article contextualizes and discusses arguments for developing an interdisciplinary framework to account for lived experiences of the close intertwining between transnational migration and career development in professional sports. By combining our psychological and sociological perspectives, we identify three normative career transitions for transnational athletes. First of all, transnational recruitment that draws on social networks as well as individual agency. Secondly, establishment as a transnational athlete that is connected to cultural and psychological adaptation as well as development of transnational belonging, and thirdly, professional athletic career termination that for transnational athletes is connected to a (re)constitution of one’s transnational network and sense of belonging.