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Expert performers' socialisation into sport

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posted on 20.11.2014, 16:36 by Karen E. Stewart
This thesis investigates the developmental socialisation process of the expert performer into sport, and considers the influence of significant others such as the family, coaches and peers within this process. The study complements existing research in the field of youth sport such as Cote and colleagues' Developmental Model of Sport Participation (DMSP) by using life story interviews to explore retrospectively the experiences of senior expert sport performers (defined in this study as international level performers age 18 years and over) in both team and individual sports. The participants were 36 expert performers (male (n = 16) and female (n = 20)) in rugby union, field hockey, track and field athletics, swimming and taekwondo. Qualitative research forms the basis of the study and life story interviews were employed as the primary tool to generate data. The four main analysis chapters present the key themes generated from the data, which include: 'The developmental socialisation process of expert performers'; 'The family'; 'Coaches'; and 'Peers'. In broad terms the data reported in this study support the concept of developmental socialisation proposed by Cote and colleagues' DMSP model, as well as raising some further questions around, for example, the nature of transition through the three phases of sampling, specialising and investing, early specialisation, the role of deliberate play and deliberate practice, and the so-called '1 0 year rule'. The findings also provide clear evidence of the complexity of the process with no two individuals sharing identical experiences of socialisation .. Additionally, evidence from this study showed that most experts sampled a range of sports before specialising, suggesting . that delaying specialisation to a later age can be beneficial to the young performer. The family, coaches and peers all play a key part in the expert performers' socialisation into sport, although their influence varied at different phases of the developmental socialisation process. The thesis concludes that a developmental socialisation perspective on youth sport provides a robust means of conceptualising the pathways many young people follow to become experts in specific sports and provides a basis for policy development in youth sport.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


© Karen E. Stewart

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at:

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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