Long-term participation in parasport: Current issues, challenges and future directions


In recent decades, the Paralympics movement has seen tremendous growth (Radtke & Doll-Tepper, 2014). Parallel to this, research in Parasport has been on the rise. Given the importance of long-term sport participation to physical and mental health, it is vital to develop a deep understanding of nuances associated with factors that influence attraction, engagement, initiation and maintenance of sport involvement (see Penedo & Dahn, 2005 for a review). While these factors have been extensively explored and reported in able-bodied sports, the same cannot be said for Parasport (Dehghansai et al., 2017). To a degree, some Paralympic sport organizations have a tendency to adapt and adopt developmental models from their able-bodied sport counterparts (Hutzler, Higgs, & Legg, 2016). However, considering the nuances associated with athletes' impairments, the introduction of this element into an already dynamic and complex model can increase variability and arguably constrain how athletes negotiate through their experiences in sport. The purpose of this symposium is to highlight key issues pertaining to the development of athletes with impairments, highlight current gaps in our understanding and identify directions for future research. More specifically, through the lens of the athletes, coaches and administrators, we will explore factors that impact individuals' transition, initial engagement, and sustained participation in Parasport with the aim to contextualize key elements vital to athletes' experiences in sport across their career.