Objectives: The main objectives of this research included an investigation into (a) the reasons for sports career termination, (b) the support provided to athletes from coaches, family members, partners and friends during sport participation and after their decision to terminate the sporting career and (c) issues involving their adaptation to life after sports.
Method: Data gathered through a combination of semi-structured interviews and in depth life histories from eighteen and two female athletes respectively. The interview schedules were developed in order to generate data relevant to sport career termination issues. Specifically, the questions were guided by Taylor and Ogilvie’s (1994) conceptual model of career termination. Participants were twenty Greek female former elite athletes in track and field athletics who achieved success at the international level. The data were analyzed using a deductive-inductive approach following content analysis procedures.
Results: Thematic categories emerged relevant to reasons for career termination included discord with coach and issues with the sporting community (e.g., athletic federation), as well as burnout. Relationship issues linked to support with coach and family were linked to adaptation to career termination. Finally, in terms of the quality of adaptation the main thematic categories were adjustment difficulties (e.g. lack of interest outside sport) as well as occupational and financial difficulties.
Conclusions: The findings supported the main components of Taylor and Ogilvie’s model. Moreover, the findings provided rich information relevant to what it is contained in each of these components. Overall, the findings suggested that Greek female elite athletes in track and field athletics find it difficult to adjust to life after sport. Interestingly, it transpires that athletes who stayed in touch with their coach and the sport environment generally experienced a better adaptation to post-sport life.
A Master's Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Philosophy of Loughborough University.