Qualitative Case Studies

Ian Cowburn, Michigan State University, USA

Theme: Youth sport

Program ID: SYM-15

Presentation: October 4, 2013 8:15 am - 9:30 am

Room: Melrose


This study is an idiographic examination of psychological development of athletes participating on a two week intensive wrestling camp. Ten athletes, one female and nine males aged between 14 and 18 years were interviewed at the beginning of the camp, periodically throughout the camp, and at the conclusion of the camp. Two researchers were embedded at the camp, observing athletes throughout camp and making field notes. Additionally, the athletes completed a pre-post camp questionnaire as used in the first study of this symposium. Idiographic profiles for each athlete were created using data from the questionnaires, hierarchical content-analysis, and field notes as well as observations of embedded researchers. Each profile provides a description of the athlete and a narrative of psychological development from the beginning of camp to the end of camp. Three of the 10 athletes will be presented as they represent higher, medium, and lower- levels of psychological development across camp. All three groups of wrestlers made gains in terms of psychological and life-skills across camp, including goal setting, imagery, responsibility, accountability, and hard work but differed by grouping in the extent of this growth. Psychological and life-skill development differed based on psychological make-up at the beginning of camp and readiness to reflect and learn from camp which appeared to impact the developmental outcomes gained from this experience. Interactions with camp counselors, the camp director, other wrestlers, and the structure of the camp were all influences in skill development. It was evident that the athletes responded differently to the intensive nature of the camp. The implications of this finding will be discussed with a focus on how to maximize the quest for psychological development in athletes who participate in youth sport programs.

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