Athletic Insight - The Online Journal of Sport Psychology

Career transitions in professional football coaches

David Hesse
Loughborough University


David Lavallee
Aberystwyth University

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Research with professional sport coaches is rare in sport psychology (Lavallee, 2006) compared to studies with athletes. The aim of this study was to explore the career transition experiences of coaches. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were employed to examine career transition experiences of professional football coaches in England. Interviews were based on the model of human adaptation to transition (Schlossberg, 1981). Qualitative content analysis revealed five categories in relation to transitions experienced by the coaches; perceptions of the transition, sources of support, adjustment strategies, lack of planning and career awareness, and competencies supporting transitions. Sources of social support (from family and football community), and employing certain strategies (completing coaching qualifications, gaining credibility early, adopting a new perspective) were related to a positive adjustment to career transitions. Consistent with previous research there was an absence of career planning activities beyond mandatory qualifications. Applied interventions that encourage career planning and develop interpersonal skills are suggested as a suitable means for supporting career transitions and broader coach development. Recommendations are made regarding future research on career transitions with coaches.

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ISSN 1536-0431