Leisure Lifestyle and Dropout: Exploring the Experience of Amateur Athletes in Competitive Sport

Bradley MacCosham, Philippe Patry, Colleen Beswick and François Gravelle

Year: 2015 Volume: 20 Issue: b

Pages: 20-39

Abstract: This study explores the relationship between amateur athletes’ leisure lifestyle and dropout. Athletes often neglect aspects of their life outside of sport, as training, practicing, and competing takes up most of their time. Having an unbalanced leisure lifestyle can have negative effects on well-being. To examine this issue, a multiple qualitative case study approach was utilized. Participants chosen for this study were ten ex-competitive amateur athletes from Canada, who competed at a high-performance level of sport (i.e., senior level), and dropped out prior to reaching their goal of reaching higher elite levels of play. Through semi-structured interviews, participants were asked about their background in sport, their experience coping with challenges and dropout, and their leisure lifestyle when playing competitively. Results indicate that athletes had a less than optimal leisure lifestyle prior to dropping out, casual leisure was used as a coping mechanism in this stage, and they perceived their sport positively when it was better balanced with other valued activities. Elite athletes participating in casual leisure activities are able to balance sport with other important aspects in their lives, potentially leading to a more positive perceptions of their involvement in sports, putting them less at risk of dropping out.