Essay: Athletic careers

1. What career stages and normative transitions are predicted by athletic career-stage models?
There are several career stage descriptive models. These models divide athletic careers into multiple stages and describe athletes changes and changes in their social life during these stages.
The first stage in an athlete’s career is the initiation stage. Sport in this stage is fun, playful exercise activities and it’s moreover playing a game. Parents help and support their children to try several sport disciplines and find one or two sports that fits the best to their interest and abilities. Sometimes children start already with competition but it’s more for fun than achieving specific goals.
The second stage is the development stage. In this stage athletes have to chose one or two sport disciplines that they like the most and focus on these two disciplines. Coaches have a bigger role and help the athletes to set sport-related goals, to train better structured, and to take part in competitions. Parents have to invest more time and money in the sport career of their child. Athletes have to be more focused on their goals, learn more sport-specific skills, increase their fitness level, and show all this in competition.
In the perfection stage athletes become elite athletes in their sport. They feel responsible for their own training and their performance during matches. Coaches become more advisors and parents are only supporters. Athletes have less time for social contacts and have to make more sacrifices. This stage lasts for 5 to 15 years.
The last stage is the discontinuation stage. The professional athletic career is, athletes stop participating on the highest levels of competition. They may continue with training. They will change their focus to a social career and sport will become a recreational hobby.

2. How existing career transition models explain the process and outcomes of a transition?
The human adaptation to transition model explains the process and results of a transition with four factors. These four factors are situation, self, support, and strategies. The key element of this model is strategies to deal with a transition. This is not a sport-specific model but it is adopted in sport psychology research.
The athletic career termination model focus on the last transition, the transition from the sport career to the post career. This model focused on the reasons, factors related to adaptation, available resources and the quality of the transition.
The difference between the athletic career transition model and the other two models is that the athletic career transition model the transition sees as a process instead of a single event like the other two.

3. What factors according to research facilitate athletic retirement? How athletes can be better prepared for the athletic career termination?
Career termination is not caused by only one factor, most of the time it is a combination of multiple factors. And the decision is made after a long process of thinking and reasoning. There are four main factors that can cause the end of a career: age, deselection, injury, and free choice.
An athlete who is getting older and realize that he or she is not as good as he/she was and can’t compete anymore with other opponents, must at one point decide to end the career. This is not totally voluntary but for the athlete it feels as a free choice. In contrast, deselection is never a free choice so it is hard to end a career due to the fact that you are not selected. This is a forced career termination. The same happens when an athlete has to end the career due to an injury. This career ending is unexpected, unchosen and the athlete can’t do anything about it. This makes it difficult to adapt to the post career transition. The athlete experience high distress and the adaptation to the post career is hard. The last cause, free choice, is when an athlete thinks the time is good to end the career. They decide when to retire without pressure or another external reason. If an athlete feels it is his or her own decision to stop, the adaptation is more positive and easier.
Four determinants are important for the quality of adaptation to a career transition. First, is the career ending voluntarily or involuntarily. Age, deselection and injury are all three involuntarily factors to end a career. If the career ending is not freely chosen it can be hard to accept and to adapt to the post career. Planning the post career makes the transition much easier. It helps the athlete to develop a positive identity. For athletes who planned their retirement experience more positive emotions and have a greater life satisfaction.
Social support is very important for an athlete to accept the new situation. Athletes have during their career primarily friends in the sports scene. But after their athletic career, social contacts outside the sports world are more important and helpful. Family and friends outside sport give the most social

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