The Mental Health Experiences of Retired Elite Athletes

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This qualitative study explores the mental health experiences of professional athletes during the retirement process from elite sport. Using a phenomenological approach, specifically interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), the following questions were explored: what are the mental health experiences of elite athletes before, during, and after the retirement process? What are the elite athletes' attitudes towards the currently available resources that aid in the retirement process? A total of n=5 male elite athletes who were retired from soccer and football participated in this study. The researcher used NVIVO to conduct a thematic analysis. Three central themes emerged: identity, grief and loss, and a need for more focused resources to assist athletes during and after withdrawal from sport. The results are in line with previous research studies regarding athletic retirement. Future implications include the need to implement more advanced and focused programs and resources that offer long-term support to athletes that targets these specific potential psychological effects.
mental health experiences of athletes , retirement , athletic identity , professional athleticism , grief and loss , transition