Underlying Factors That Influence Competitive Sport Withdrawal Among Youth Athletes: A Qualitative Study
Competitive sport withdrawal among youth athletes in New Zealand is prevalent, so it is therefore important to better understand it. The purpose of this study was to (1) identify withdrawal factors and (2) explore how those factors are experienced. A qualitative method using semi-structured interviews was used to gather descriptive data from 10 youth athletes who had withdrawn from competitive sport. Using thematic analysis, an understanding of what withdrawal factors youth athletes experience and how they worked was identified. The five prominent withdrawal factors were 1) Transitions, 2) Negative Coach-Athlete Relationship, 3) Lack of Relatedness, 4) Less Enjoyment, and 5) Injury. These factors often interacted with each other to influence sport withdrawal. In addition, the factors seem to either manifest as a withdrawal accompaniment (experienced but doesn’t directly initiate withdrawal) or a withdrawal trigger (linked directly to the withdrawal decision). The findings of this study can be used by sport coaches or managers to potentially identify withdrawal-risk athletes sooner and ultimately reduce overall incidence.