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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Team selection transition processes in competitive sport McEwen, Carolyn Elizabeth


Team selection processes are an inherent part of high performance sport and may impact athletes’ sport engagement and psychological adjustment (Samuel & Tenenbaum, 2011a). The purpose of this program of research was to advance understanding of high performance developmental and elite athletes’ experiences with significant team selection processes. Two prospective-longitudinal studies were conducted to achieve this objective. The first study examined how elite athletes negotiated the 2012 Olympic team selection process from an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis perspective (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009). Three primary themes emerged from analysis of the interviews including the Olympic goal, navigating the Olympic team selection process, and moving on from the Olympics. Results suggested that participants organized their athletic and vocational endeavours around their goal of being selected to compete in the Olympic Games, demonstrating significant investment and sacrifice. To cope with non-selection, athletes reappraised where the 2012 Olympic Games fit within their athletic careers, engaged in new and meaningful athletic, social, and vocational goals, and emphasized the prominence of social and vocational identities unrelated to sport. Study two examined how stress and adaptational processes were impacted by the 2013 Canada Summer Games (CSG) selection process. Multilevel modeling was employed to investigate changes in cognitive appraisals, emotions, coping, sport engagement, athletic goal progress, and life satisfaction in relation to athletes’ CSG selection status. Findings suggested that the CSG tryout had a meaningful impact on athletes as evidenced by changes in emotions, cognitive appraisals, and athletic goal progress in relation to their selection status. However, the CSG selection process did not affect athletes’ sport engagement or life satisfaction. Collectively, results from both studies indicated that athletes reappraised selection processes over time and varied in their emotional responses to team tryouts, highlighting the importance of investigating intrapersonal change and interpersonal differences associated with team selection events. Findings also suggested that the stage of sport career influenced the meaning athletes attached to specific selection processes and the degree to which these events influenced their life as a whole.

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