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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Identification of intrinsic, interpersonal, and contextual factors influencing disengagement from high performance sport Newell, Colleen Patricia Quee


A qualitative multiple case study research design was implemented to investigate the experience of disengagement from high performance sport among athletes at different stages of this transitional process. The purpose of this study was to examine athletes' anticipated and actual disengagement experiences. Of particular focus were the intrinsic, interpersonal and contextual factors perceived to influence the disengagement experience. Two current high performance athletes, two athletes in the midst of the disengagement transition and two former athletes volunteered to describe their disengagement experiences in in-depth, audio-taped interviews. Interviews were also conducted with two individuals from the athletes' respective personal and sport communities. An analysis of individual cases as well as a cross-case comparison revealed the presence of intrinsic, interpersonal and contextual factors. Intrinsic factors include Positive Framing; Personal Identity; Post-competitive Career Plans; Competitiveness; Self-Confidence; and Cross-career Competency. Interpersonal factors include the Presence and Quality of Interpersonal Support. Contextual factors include the Quadrennial Cycle; Autonomy of the Disengagement Decision; Achievement of Performance Expectations; Organizational Focus; Educational Status; Concurrent Life Changes; and Employment Barriers. These factors were confirmed and refined through feedback interviews with participants. These findings are discussed in terms of their relationship to and extension of earlier research pertaining to retirement from sport. It is argued that these results support the conceptualisation of disengagement from sport is a complex, multi-faceted experience, influenced by a variety of factors.

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