An Investigation into the Factors Affecting Drop-out Across Individual and Team Sports, Focusing on Gymnastics and Netball
University of Wales
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There are many factors and variables that can contribute to the reasons why an athlete may decide to drop-out of sport. A number of researchers have considered the reasons why children drop-out of sport (Orlick 1973; Gould, Feltz, Horn and Weiss, 1985; Gould and Petlichkoff, 1988; Woods, 2007) but in comparison, less research has been conducted into drop-out of sport post-puberty. Therefore the purpose of this study was to explore the reasoning behind female athletes’ incentives to drop-out of their chosen sport post age 16. More specifically, the two sports being investigated were gymnastics and netball in order to explore the differences between individual and team sports. Data collection was qualitative in nature and involved eight semi-structured interviews, four with ex-gymnasts and four with ex-netballers. Seven key themes emerged from the interviews including; this (sic) influence of coaches; parents; enjoyment; health and fitness; peers; skill development and contrasting commitments. Evaluation of the results showed that although all seven themes were discussed in some depth, several dominant themes became apparent. The impact of coaching was a key theme discussed and the gymnasts described how neglect and favouritism by their coaching was detrimental to their participation. Whereas, the netballers felt too much pressure and conflicting expectations with their coaches influenced their drop-out. The impact of peers and social life was the other dominant theme. Gymnasts identified a need for a better social life due to intense training. Whereas the netballers claimed a lack of peer participation meant lack of a team, inevitably resulting in their drop-out. A new theme was also uncovered; the negative impact that a more talented sibling or younger gymnast can have on an older gymnast. Demoralisation of the older gymnasts eventually contributed to their drop-out. Overall, similar themes were identified by all the participants, but significant differences emphasised the need for sport specific factors to be tackled separately in order to reduce the amount of drop-out occurring in individual and team sports.
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