Who am I? A multidimensional approach to understanding career transition quality in former competitors


Participation in sport in early childhood plays an important role in identity formation of children; however, those who go on to compete in more specialized and elite-sport systems may be prone to conflating their self-identity with sport-identity. In turn, a unidimensional construction of identity may act as one barrier of many for former athletes that are trying to navigate the post-sport transition. The purpose of this study was to build on Park, Lavallee, and Tod's (2012) review on athletes' career transition out of sport by conducting an updated systematic analysis on factors predicting successful and 'crisis' transitions of former competitive athletes. Articles were searched through the PubMed, SPORTDiscus, and Web of Science databases using specified keywords and inclusion criteria. Preliminary findings suggest the emergence of similar themes to Park et al.'s (2012) review as important considerations in the career transition process for athletes, such as the role of athletic identity, voluntariness of retirement decision, perceived control of life, pre-retirement planning, and physical health. In addition, more recent findings have illuminated the importance of sociocultural environments and the need for athletes to adopt new narratives and expand the functionality of current narratives as it relates to their lived experiences in post-retirement (e.g., Cavallerio, Wadey, & Wagstaff, 2017). Results will be discussed in the context of facilitating effective athlete 'identity' development from an early age to promote positive psychosocial outcomes, such as sport and life satisfaction throughout the lifespan, with a focus on strategies to ensure successful end-of-athletic-career transition in particular.