A qualitative case study: Investigation of coaching after a career-ending injury

Lindsey Curnock, Northern Illinois University, USA

Theme: Coaching/leadership

Poster Number: 93

Program ID: POS-2

Presentation: October 4, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


Anywhere between 14% and 42% of athletes will retire from playing a sport due to a career-ending injury (Fortunato & Marchant, 1999). Research has shown that athletes who sustain career-ending injuries go through an array of emotions such as disbelief, fear, anger, depression, tension and fatigue (Weiss & Troxel, 1986; Wylleman et al., 2004). While these emotional issues have been extensively examined in the literature, Wylleman and Reints (2010) explain that a less examined area of interest includes athletes’ struggle to find an occupational direction, post-athletic career. In particular, former athletes may need additional training or schooling in order to gain meaningful employment because academic or vocational goals may have been put on hold during their athletic career. While research exists on athletes’ transition out of sport post-injury, there is little on athletes continuing in related athletic avenues (e.g., in the realm of coaching). As a result, the primary aim of the preliminary study was to investigate the transition of a current football coach who sustained a career-ending injury and was able to move into a coaching role at the high school, semi-professional, and national team level. Using a qualitative approach results revealed that the coach used his experience with his own injury to shape the way he treats his athletes, especially those that were injured. Major themes discovered included: participating vicariously through athletes, holding a players’-coach mentality, inclusion of injured players, and trust of the medical / athletic training staff. The implications associated with these results support the notion that mentoring not only benefits the participant, but can also have a positive result on the mentor (Lough, 2001) and provide initial support highlighting the need for additional studies exploring athletes’ post career-ending injury experiences.

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