A cross-national comparison of the transition out of elite sport of Swiss, Danish and Polish athletes

Andreas Küttel, Eleanor Boyle, Mette Krogh Christensen, Juerg Schmid

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The main purpose of this study was to compare the transition out of elite sport of former Swiss, Danish, and Polish athletes in terms of (a) preconditions of retirement, (b) the transitional and adaptation period, and (c) consequences of the transition. The sample consisted of 231 Swiss, 86 Danish, and 84 Polish athletes who answered an online version of the Athletic Career Termination Questionnaire (Kuettel, Boyle, & Schmid, 2017) in their respective language. Separate one-way ANOVAs and chi-square tests revealed more differences than similarities between the transitional processes of athletes from the three countries. Athletes differed significantly in their educational level, their athletic identity, and their working experience while active in the sport. Swiss athletes experienced the least distress during the transition, while Polish athletes reported the highest difficulties. Polish athletes relocated mainly in jobs connected to the sport and thus rated their previous sport network as more important for finding an occupation compared to Swiss and Danish athletes. Based on our results and in line with findings of previous cross-national studies, we emphasize that it is important to consider the socio-cultural context when studying athletes’ retirement process. Some context-specific recommendations for career counseling and career assistance programs for athletes are provided.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSport and Exercise Psychology Review
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)3-22
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • elite sport
  • Athletic retirement
  • Cross-national comparison

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