Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
School of Kinesiology and Recreation
The majority of research in developmental sport psychology has targeted the youth and adolescent age groups (aged five to 18) and has tended to avoid athletes in organized and highly competitive environment such as major college athletics. The transition from high school to college brings many challenges. Academically and socially, students encounter increased course rigor, decreased in-class time, and adjustment to new social groups. Additionally, student-athletes encounter scrutiny from the public, extensive time commitments, changing social dynamics, and physical and mental demands as they combine athletic and academic pursuits. This on-going study explores student-athletes’ perspectives of the developmental transition from youth sport to collegiate sport; specifically looking at the influential experiences that student-athletes believe to have experienced and the development and transfer of psychological skills, leadership skills, and life skills from one level to the next in light of these experiences. An interpretivist, narrative approach was used to understand experiences and perceptions of student-athletes who recently completed their first year in college. Thirteen student-athletes participated in interviews that involved pictorializing a developmental timeline and responding to questions from a semi-structured interview guide. Narrative thematic analysis revealed categories, themes, and sub-themes across student-athletes from various sports. This study suggests that individuals that transition from youth sport to college sport are becoming culturally constructed “emerging-adult student-athletes”, are prone to unique forms of environmental adversity due to their status as a student-athlete and are consistently faced with rapidly changing social dynamics. In light of this, student-athletes believed to have developed and/or strengthened important psychological and life skills due to their unique transition from youth sport to college sport. This study provides evidence that student-athletes emerging into adulthood within an athletic context experience especially challenging circumstance. Furthermore, most influential developmental transitions involved adversity. Additionally, student-athletes sought external resources and support in addition to implicitly developing psychological and life skills. The findings of this study will be able to provide insight to produce educational resources that can cultivate a smoother transition in to collegiate sports for not only the student-athletes, but parents, coaches, and support staff as well.
Childers, Coleman, "Examination of Student-Athletes' Developmental Transition from Youth Sport to College Sport" (2019). Theses and Dissertations. 1127.