Investigating the Youth to Senior Transition in Sport: From Theory to Practice



Morris R (2013) Investigating the Youth to Senior Transition in Sport: From Theory to Practice. Doctor of Philosophy. Aberystwyth University.

This thesis extended knowledge of the youth to senior transition in an elite sport context (football) through examining athletes’ and supporters’ (coaches, parents, sport physiologists, sport psychologists, physiotherapists, and a sport therapist) perceptions of the move. In the process, the thesis evaluated the effectiveness of Stambulova’s (2003) model in explaining sport based transitions. The use of a qualitative research design allowed the opportunity to explore participants’ perceptions of the youth to senior transition in sport from their own perspective (see Patton, 2002). By carrying out qualitative enquiry, Patton (2002) argues that researchers are able to understand and capture other people’s points of view without predetermining their thoughts and feelings or being constrained by the fixed focus of many quantitative research methods. To help achieve the overall aims, Study 1 identified coaches’ beliefs regarding the (a) demands, (b) resources, and (c) barriers that athletes experience and utilise as they move to senior sport. Participants (12 males), aged between 29 and 71 years from professional football clubs in the Scottish or English Premier League, were interviewed. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and thematically content analysed. Results indicated broad consistency with the demands, resources, and barriers highlighted in Stambulova’s (2003) model, including, for example, athletes’ motivation level, as determinants of transitional experiences. The study also suggested that those providing social support have differentiated roles to fulfil in the transition from youth to senior sport (e.g., parents provide emotional rather than technical support). Additionally, rather than the youth to senior change being a single major transition for some young players, series of transitions over their whole career were perceived to influence their response when moving up to the first team. Finally, coaches suggested that there is a need for dynamic balance between resources and barriers throughout the process for optimal outcomes, supporting Stambulova’s (2003) model of transition.

FundersAberystwyth University
InstitutionAberystwyth University
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Qualification levelDoctorate

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Dr Robert Morris

Dr Robert Morris

Associate Professor, Sport