Retirement from sport: The final transition

Lingam-Willgoss, Candice (2022). Retirement from sport: The final transition. In: Heaney, Caroline; Kentzer, Nichola and Oakley, Ben eds. Athletic Development : A Psychological Perspective. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 54–69.



Elite athletes experience retirement much earlier than any other career, and as professionals working in sport settings it is important that people understand the wide range of emotions that can be experienced and may characterise this period of time in an athlete’s life. In retirement, athletes have to adjust to several psychological, social, and vocational changes as they confront a life outside of the sporting environment. Mila was a professional tennis player with a successful career and was one of the top 100 players in the world. A combination of factors including age, decreased performance, and loss of motivation in addition to just feeling like it was time to retire contributed to Mila’s decision to step away from tennis. Thanatological models suggest that retirement from sport bears similarities to death and dying, and is a form of loss or social death.

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