Closing a chapter? A protocol for a longitudinal mixed methods study on retirement from elite sport.

Ronkainen, Noora J; Schmid, Michael J; Hlasová, Helena; Örencik, Merlin; Schmid, Jürg; Conzelmann, Achim (2023). Closing a chapter? A protocol for a longitudinal mixed methods study on retirement from elite sport. BMC Psychology, 11(1), p. 376. BioMed Central 10.1186/s40359-023-01422-w

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Retirement from elite sport represents a major life transition for athletes and requires them to redefine their central life projects, identities, and perhaps even sources of meaning in life. Although an extensive body of literature has identified risk and protective factors in career termination, little is known about the more subjective processes and individual pathways of athletes as they establish their new relationship with work-life and sport. The planned longitudinal mixed methods study follows Swiss elite athletes' transition with a focus on understanding (1) the relationship between psychological resources, life situations at the end of the sports career, and the retirement process; (2) how athletes' post-retirement vocational careers interact with their subjective careers and sense of meaningful work; (3) how athletes reconstruct their identities and relationship with sport over time; and (4) how gender shapes athletes' pathways and reorientation of their life design.Using a person-oriented approach combined with narrative inquiry, we expect to identify specific types and stories which demonstrate individual differences in career and personal development throughout the transitional period, an understanding of which can be targeted towards support programmes for retiring elite athletes. As the study centralises dimensions of positive psychological functioning (meaning and purpose in life/sport/work, resilience, life satisfaction), it complements previous studies focused on psychological distress and provides much needed knowledge that can be used to foster well-being in athletic retirement. Collaborating with the Swiss Olympic Association helps to ensure that the research findings will be disseminated to relevant end-users and used towards developing socially sustainable elite sport for the future generations.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Further Contribution)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW)

UniBE Contributor:

Ronkainen, Noora Johanna, Schmid, Michael Johannes, Hlasová, Helena, Örencik, Merlin Kantigin, Schmid, Jürg (B), Conzelmann, Achim


700 Arts > 790 Sports, games & entertainment




BioMed Central




Pubmed Import

Date Deposited:

08 Nov 2023 15:47

Last Modified:

12 Nov 2023 02:34

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Athletic retirement Career termination Career transition Elite athletes Identity Meaning




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