Female athletes' experiences of positive growth following deselection in sport


The purpose of this study was to explore female athletes' experiences of positive growth following deselection from provincial sport teams. Interviews were conducted with 18 females (M age = 22.45 years, SD = 1.38) who were deselected from provincial soccer, ice-hockey, and volleyball teams as adolescents. Interpretative phenomenological analysis methodology (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009) was used. Analysis was guided by Tedeschi and Calhoun's (2004) model of posttraumatic growth. Results showed that participants questioned their identity and ability as an athlete following deselection. Growth was a gradual process that unfolded over several years, experienced through a greater appreciation of the role of sport in their lives and sport becoming a priority, an enhanced sense of personal strength, developing closer social relationships, and a recognition of new and other opportunities. These findings demonstrate the applicability of a model of posttraumatic growth in sport, and show that cognitive processes and social relationships are critical components in the process of positive growth.