An appraisal of athlete development models through citation network analysis

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Background and purpose:A number of models have been proposed to help explain how athletes develop in sport. However, minimal research has attempted to examine the prominence and interconnectivity of the athlete development models in the literature. The purpose of the present study was to synthesize and evaluate the interconnectedness of the English-language literature that serve as the foundation for athlete developmental models in sport using a novel research synthesis approach to sport psychology –citation network analysis. Unlike other research synthesis techniques, citation network analysis reveals the cognitive structure and interconnectedness of a field of study [Moore, S., Shiell, P., Hawe, P., & Haines, V.A. (2005). The privileging of communicatarian ideas: citation practices and the translation of social capital into public health research. American Journal of Public Health, 95, 1330–1337.].Methods:Based upon seven criteria, seven articles representing models of athlete development in sport were selected as the base of the article population. All peer-reviewed, English journal articles that cite at least one of these seven model articles were compiled, resulting in a total population of 75 articles. From this article population a network of inter-citations was created.Results and conclusions:Analysis of the total network revealed the presence of two separate factions working in relative isolation from one another. Articles in the first faction were centered around the Stambulova [(1994). Developmental sports career investigations in Russia: a post-perestroika analysis. The Sport Psychologist, 8, 221–237.] and Wylleman, Alfermann, and Lavallee [(2004). Career transitions in sport: European perspectives. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 5, 7–20.] model articles while the second faction contained five other model articles [Abbott, A., & Collins, D. (2004). Eliminating the dichotomy between theory and practice in talent identification and development: considering the role of psychology. Journal of Sport Sciences, 22, 395–408; Bailey, R., & Morley, D. (2006). Towards a model of talent development in physical education. Sport, Education and Society, 11, 211–230; Côté, J. (1999). The influence of the family in the development of talent in sport. The Sport Psychologist, 13, 395-417; Durand-Bush, N. & Salmela, J. H. (2002). The development and maintenance of expert athletic performance: perceptions of world and olympic champions. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 14, 154–171; Morgan, T. & Giacobbi, P. R., Jr. (2006). Toward two grounded theories of the talent development and social support process of highly successful collegiate athletes. The Sport Psychologist, 20, 295–313.)]. The results offer a comprehensive representation of how researchers use existing models and articles to unravel the complexity of athlete development in sport.

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