Background and purpose. The concept of transitions has, during the past decade, become a well-delineated topic of study among the sport psychology community. This introductory article provides an overview of the major developments within this thematic field of research, as well as a description of interventions used with athletes in transition. Avenues for further research and developments are proposed.
Methods. Literature review and integration.
Results and conclusions. Analysis reveals that the concept of transition is currently viewed in a holistic, life-span perspective which spans the athletic and post-athletic career and which includes transitions occurring in the athletic career as well as those occurring in other domains of athletes' lives. This 'beginning-to-end' approach is illustrated with a developmental model on transitions faced by athletes at athletic, individual, psychosocial, and academic/vocational level. At the level of interventions, analysis suggests that the focus on interventions has shifted from the use of traditional therapeutic approaches to cope with the possible traumatic experience of the termination of the athletic career, to that of career transitions and athlete life skill programs aimed at providing support and education to athletes making athletic and non-athletic transitions. Finally, suggestions for future conceptual developments include the need to extend the available knowledge on the characteristics of specific transitions (e.g. non-normative transitions, in-career transitions), on the influence of sport-, gender- or cultural-specific factors on the quality of the transitional process, as well as on the user-friendliness and applicability of sports career transition interventions and programs across the range of athletes.