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UK Coaching Team
Developing Mindsets

Exploring Identity Through an Individual's Sporting Lifecycle: Age-Related Transitions

In the fourth resource in this mini-series, Sport Psychologist Rebecca Chidley and UK Coaching’s Chris Chapman explore identity, Masters participants and managing retirement from an athletic perspective

The growth of ‘masters’ participation has been considerable across sports and physical activities and providing opportunities for these age groups has become more of a priority with events taking place at club, National and International level.

The development of identity in continued participation

Masters athletes are described as individuals who participate in competitive sport, with organised events typically beginning at age 35 and extending into the 90s. Masters athletes are characterised by formal registration to an organisation (e.g., club) or event (e.g., 10km road race), and engage in regular training and coaching in preparation for an event or competition.

Research on masters participants highlights stories of personal victories and private desperation, demonstrating the perceived benefits and potential consequences for engaging and maintaining an ‘athlete identity.’

The masters participant who challenges the standard definition of ageing by competing regularly in sport at elite levels beyond middle adulthood and into the later decades of life is resisting the ageing process by maintaining physical activity levels and gaining additional social and psychological benefits.

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