Accessibility of athlete retirement resources within the Canadian high-performance sport system


Every high-performance athlete endures a unique experience of transitioning out of sport. This transition can serve as a catalyst for physiological, social, emotional, and psychological challenges for high-performances athletes. Research on athlete retirement has gained great momentum during the last four decades. However, the main area of research has been on understanding the negative physical, behavioural, cognitive, and emotional challenges athletes experience during their transitions out of sport (Jewett, Kerr, & Tamminen, 2019).The current literature does recommend that athletes should engage in proactive retirement support (Park, Lavallee, & Tod, 2013; Taylor & Ogilvie, 1994), yet American athletes have reported various challenges and barriers in gaining access to pre-retirement resources (Park, Lavallee & Todd, 2012) to prepare for their transition. Therefore, this study sought to explore the perception of accessibility to transitioning out of sport support resources within the Canadian high-performance sport system. The aim of the study was to explore the understanding, access, and usage of transition out of sport resources from individuals across the ecological model of sport in Canada. Participants were recruited from various roles within the Candian sport high-performance system, including active and retired athletes, coaches, support staff, and stakeholders. Results from the participants' semi-structured interviews indicated that the culture within the sport organization and the knowledge of transitions out of sport resources, from coaches and support staff showed correlations with the athletes' perception of ToS resource accessibility, and their willingness to engage with proactive retirement practices. Limitations and practical implications of the research are also discussed.