AN IDENTIFICATION AND CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF FACTORS INFLUENCING AN ATHLETE’S PROGRESSION TO ELITE STATUS: A BRITISH PERSPECTIVE
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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The present study sought to investigate the many contextual factors that play a role in athlete development and the achievement of expertise in Track and Field, specifically focusing on the perspective from Great Britain. The term elite was defined by a set of characteristics and achievements that were then used as criteria to select the Participants (N = 5). Each participant took part in a semi structured interview in which they were questioned about a range of contextual factors, including their early sport involvement and the roles played by key stakeholders such as their coaches and parents. In relation to diversified sport, it was found that involvement in a range of sports was a positive predecessor to long term involvement in Track and Field. Furthermore, weight was added to the classing of Track and Field as a late specialisation sport. From the data collected the complexity that is inherent with athlete development became clear. A range of factors emerged as key characteristics of athlete development; the influence of the family for example was examined in the review of literature and proved to be an essential requirement to each athlete’s progression. Access to high performance facilities appeared to provide the platform from which the athletes excelled to the upper echelons of Track and Field in Great Britain, whilst school sports provided the initial engagement with sports and skill learning. Although there are gaps still evident in the subject area, this study contributes to existing understanding and proposes further research centred on the familial influence on athlete development.
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