Abandoning the performance narrative: two women's stories of transition from professional sport

Kitrina Douglas, David Carless

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

171 Citations (Scopus)


Despite its potential to illuminate psychological processes within socio-cultural contexts, examples of narrative research are rare in sport psychology. In this study, we employed an analysis of narrative to explore two women's stories of living in, and withdrawing from, professional tournament golf gathered through life history interviews conducted over 6 years. Our findings suggest that immersion in elite sport culture shaped these women's identities around performance values of single-minded dedication to sport and prioritization of winning above all other areas of life. When the performance narrative ceased to “fit” their changing lives, both women, having no alternative narrative to guide their personal life stories, experienced narrative wreckage and considerable personal trauma. They required asylum—a place of refuge where performance values were no longer paramount—to story their lives around a relational narrative that reinstated a coherent identity while providing meaning and worth to life after golf.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-230
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Applied Sport Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes


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