Understanding Deselection in Competitive Female Youth Sport

  • Author / Creator
    Neely, Katherine C
  • The overall purpose of this dissertation research was to gain a better understanding of deselection in competitive female youth sport by examining coaches’, athletes’, and parents’ experiences of deselection. Three studies were conducted, each focused on a different aspect of deselection. The first study examined coaches’ views on deselecting athletes from competitive female adolescent sport teams. Interviews were conducted with 22 head coaches (16 male, 6 female) of Under 15-Under 18 age group provincial level female soccer, basketball, volleyball, and ice hockey teams. Interpretive description methodology (Thorne, 2008) was used. Results revealed deselection was a process that involved four phases: pre try-out meeting, evaluation and decision-making, communication of deselection, and post deselection reflections. Within the evaluation and decision-making phase coaches made programmed and non-programmed decisions under conditions of certainty and uncertainty. When faced with uncertainty coaches relied on intuition. The second study examined how athletes and their parents cope with deselection from provincial sport teams using a communal coping perspective. Interviews were conducted with 14 female adolescent athletes (M age = 15.0 years, SD = 1.4) and 14 of their parents (5 fathers, 9 mothers). Participants were deselected from provincial soccer, basketball, volleyball, and ice hockey teams. Data were analyzed using the descriptive phenomenological approach (Giorgi, 2009) guided by a framework of communal coping (Lyons, Mickelson, Sullivan, & Coyne, 1998). Participants appraised deselection from a shared perspective (i.e., athletes and parents viewed deselection as ‘our problem’) and the responsibility for coping with deselection changed as time progressed. Initially, parents protected their daughters from the negative emotions arising from deselection (an ‘our problem, my responsibility’ orientation). Athletes and parents then engaged in cooperative actions to manage their reactions to the stressor (an ‘our problem, our responsibility’ orientation). Finally, athletes and parents engaged in individual coping strategies, again reflecting an ‘our problem, my responsibility’ orientation but with athletes taking more responsibility for coping. This study demonstrated the value of using a communal coping perspective to understand interpersonal dimensions of coping in sport, and revealed forms and processes of communal coping used by athletes and their parents. The third study examined female athletes’ experiences of positive growth following deselection. Interviews were conducted with 18 females (M age = 22.45 years, SD = 1.38) who were deselected from provincial sport teams as adolescents and continued to play their sport at a competitive level. Participants completed two interviews. Interpretative phenomenological analysis methodology (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009) was used and analysis was guided by Tedeschi and Calhoun’s (2004) model of posttraumatic growth. Results showed that participants questioned their identity and ability as an athlete following deselection. Growth was a gradual process that unfolded over several years. It was experienced in the following domains: greater appreciation of the role of sport in their lives, enhanced sense of personal strength, closer social relationships, and recognition of new opportunities. These findings demonstrated the applicability of a model of posttraumatic growth in sport, and showed that cognitive processing and social relationships are critical components of positive growth as participants re-build their beliefs about themselves as athletes. This dissertation research demonstrates the complex and inherently stressful nature of deselection for coaches, athletes, and parents, and highlights procedures that can inform and improve deselection procedures used by youth sport coaches, describes how athletes and parents can work together to cope with being deselected, and demonstrates positive growth as a potential positive outcome following deselection.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2017
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Dunn, John (Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation)
    • McHugh, Tara-Leigh (Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation)
    • Kowalski, Kent (College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan)
    • Truscott, Derek (Department of Educational Psychology)