“By the time I got to London I was like a coke bottle that had been shaken up and was about to explode!”: a case study of performance expectations with a retired athlete

Helen Heaviside, Andrew J. Manley, Faye F. Didymus, Susan Backhouse, Helen R. Staff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives
This study aimed to address voids in academic literature by exploring the consequences of performance expectations from the perspective of a retired athlete.

Methodology
An instrumental case study was used to capture the experiences of a retired female athlete who had been exposed to performance expectations throughout her career. Six conversational life story interviews were conducted with the athlete and the data were represented in two portrait vignettes.

Results
The vignettes provide a rich and holistic account of the participant’s experiences of performance expectations. Salient points that are detailed throughout the vignettes include: i) the consequences (e.g., fear of failure, perceptions of pressure, magnification of intrapersonal expectations) of media expectations for the athlete; ii) factors that the athlete perceived to influence the consequences of media expectations (e.g., the amount of media attention received); iii) the cumulative consequences (e.g., nausea, lack of perceived control, butterflies) of interpersonal expectations from multiple perceivers (e.g., the media, coaches, the public, opponents); and iv) the presence of a fear culture associated with expectations, which had ramifications for the athlete’s well-being and their ability to talk about their experiences.

Conclusions
This article offers a novel insight to the multi-modal consequences of performance expectations for an athlete, the dominant role that the media played in shaping the athlete’s experiences, and the athlete’s inability to disclose her experiences of expectations. Stakeholders are encouraged to develop their own meanings, interpretations, and evaluations of the vignettes, and apply their interpretations to policy and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102022
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Volume57
Early online date27 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes

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