Retirement from sport and the loss of athletic identity

David Lavallee*, Sandy Gordon, J. Robert Grove

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to examine how a sample of elite athletes coped with distressful reactions to retirement from sport. As part of a larger research project, 15 former elite athletes were identified as having experienced severe emotional difficulties upon athletic career termination. Through use of a micronarrative methodology, it was determined that account making can be a significant moderator of distress during the career transition process. In addition, the quality of the account making was found to be related to present affect and overall success in coping with athletic retirement. Finally, changes in athletic identity were found to be significant determinants of adjustment for athletes upon career termination. Suggestions are presented for future research on treatment strategies for distressful reactions to retirement from sport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-147
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Personal and Interpersonal Loss
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1997
Externally publishedYes


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