How do athletes perceive and respond to change-events: An exploratory measurement tool

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Objectives:This study examined a new conceptual framework of change in the athletic career (Samuel & Tenenbaum, in press). An explorative perspective was assumed in order to: (a) develop a new measurement (Change-Event Inventory; CEI) to assess athletes’ experiences of certain change-events, and (b) examine athletes’ perceptions of and reactions to their change-event experiences, and the related effect of athletic identity.Design and method:A cross-sectional design was used. The sample included adult athletes (N = 338) from diverse athletic backgrounds who completed a measurement of athletic identity and the CEI. The psychometric properties of the CEI were established.Results:Athletes reported experiencing various and multiple change-events in their careers, with a transition to a higher-level team or club and achieving a major accomplishment being the most frequently reported ones. Professional/international athletes experienced the highest variety of types of change-events (M = 10.02, SD = 3.23). Certain change-events were experienced in different frequency rates as a function of athletes’ competitive level and sport discipline. Change-events were characterized by distinct profiles of perception, reaction, and coping. Athletic identity was associated with the perceived significance of change-events.Conclusions:Athletes experience a variety of change-events in their careers, beyond the “traditional” athletic career transitions. Personal characteristics (e.g., competitive level, athletic identity) may affect athletes’ experience of and reaction to change-events. Educating coaches and parents about these types of events can be a valuable aspect of practitioners’ work.

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