The Utility of Role Strain Theory in Facilitating our Understanding of Elite Adolescent Golfers Developmental Trajectories

Rick Hayman, Remco Polman, Jamie Taylor, Brian Hemmings, Erika Borkoles

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Abstract

Historically, research exploring athletes’ experiences of combining a sports career with education or work commitments has been theoretically underpinned by the Holistic Athlete Career Model (Wylleman, De Knop, & Reints, 2011). However, recent empirical research (e.g., Van Rens, Borkoles, Farrow, Curran & Polman; Van Rens, Borkoles, Farrow & Polman, 2018) applied Role Strain Theory (Fenzel, 1989) to directly explain how adolescents elite athletes combine and cope with the competing demands of sport and education arising from the different roles they have to fulfil as developing athletes and young adults. In this study, eight adolescent international golfers, who transitioned from pre-elite to elite junior ranks, retrospectively recalled how they combined multiple sport participation, family, peer, and educational roles. During childhood, these athletes reported chronic role strain, but it was low-level and manageable. Role strain severity and regularity escalated during the early teenage years until the very final stages of the pre-elite transition context. It was at this point when role strain intensity and regularity subsided, primarily as a consequence of golf specialisation and formal secondary education completion. Findings provide recommendations for how best to safeguard elite junior golfers’ long-term psychological and physical welfare.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Golf Science
Volume7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2019

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