The role of Social Support in the development of elite collegiate Performers: perception of dropout
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The purpose of this study was to discover the ways in which an athlete’s social support network responds- during the transition from school to university. This study adopted a qualitative design of semi-structured interviews, analysed through content analysis. Participants (n=7) were undergraduate scholarship students in higher education and were either international or professional athletes across a range of sports including, Basketball (n = 2), Football (n = 1), Golf (n = 1), Taekwondo (n = 1), Karate (n = 1) and Long Distance Running (n = 1). Ages ranged from 18-20 (Mean= 18.57 ± SD 0.98 years). Data analysis revealed a number of themes that were relevant to the transition experience that included: the role of social support in talent development systems, participant’s university experiences, the university scholarship programme, general lifestyle and lastly, the participants training and recovery. Reasons behind dropout/burnout occurring could be initiated from the emerging themes: their poor diets, lack of tapering or rest approaches within their training, little esteem support and finally unrealistic targets set by others. These findings support previous relevant research and practical implications are provided for the support networks of elite athletes, alongside guidance for national governing bodies.
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