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Kinesiology & Recreation


Scott Pierce

Mentor Department

Kinesiology & 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, 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 development and transfer of psychological skills, leadership skills, and life skills from one level to the next. An interpretivist, narrative approach is being used to understand experiences and perceptions of student-athletes who have recently completed their first year in college. At the time of writing the abstract, data collection is on-going. Thirteen student-athletes have participated in interviews that involve pictorializing a developmental timeline and responding to questions from a semi-structured interview guide. Preliminary thematic analysis has revealed initial common themes across athletes from various sports. Goal-setting is a psychological skill that most athletes participate in on their own but are not given assistance with and are not effectively set nor tracked. Interestingly, related to leadership skills, is a fear of speaking out as a first-year student-athlete on a new team, regardless of leadership roles prior. Time-management, scheduling, and proactivity are common themes of life skills that transferred in to college but were never tested to the extent that they were at the collegiate level, therefore making them more difficult to grasp. Finally, student-athletes desire further transitional support for knowing: a) how to effectively study; b) how to deal with setbacks in sport and academics; and c) knowing who and when to ask for help when needed. The findings will be used to develop resources to cultivate a smoother transition in to collegiate sports for not only the student-athletes, but parents, coaches, and support staff as well.

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