Researching athletic development

Horne, Joanna (2021). Researching athletic development. In: Heaney, Caroline; Kentzer, Nichola and Oakley, Ben eds. Athletic development: A psychological perspective. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 70–84.



Research is the systematic process of collecting and analysing information, in order to increase our knowledge and understanding of a topic. It involves generating a research question, identifying an appropriate research design, collecting and analysing the data, and reporting the results. Conducting research in athletic development maintains and enhances our understanding of this area, which informs our teaching and practice.

This chapter will primarily be useful to newcomers to research generally, or to specific research designs. It will introduce you to the main research approaches (the broad type of methodology), and some of the designs (the detailed procedure used to answer the research question) and instruments (the specific tools used to collect data) most commonly used in research into athletic development. The chapter will help you understand the findings of studies presented throughout this book and in your wider reading. It does not cover every research design, or teach you how to conduct research, but if you want to explore research in sport further, then Jones (2015) provides a comprehensive guide.

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