Roughly about 1% of collegiate athletes are successfully drafted into a professional league, while the average professional career lasts only about three years. As a result, approximately 99% of all collegiate athletes will face foreclosure of their athletic identity when graduating from college.
As modification of higher education becomes more and more of a focal point for our country, sport psychologists have begun to focus their attention on athletes and their pursuit of exceptional athletic performance in elite sports and the extent to which this pursuit affects personal development. According to Lavallee (2005), previous research has found that collegiate athletes are more likely to have lower levels of career maturity and delayed career development than their non-athletic counterparts. In addition, researchers also found that collegiate athletes were less able to develop mature career and educational plans than other fellow college students. Therefore, this suggests that the education made available to collegiate athletes to develop career knowledge is lacking or incomplete; indicating that future research should be more focused on the personal development of athletes.
In a study by Beamon (2012), the phenomenon of athletic identity and identity foreclosure following the retirement from sports was examined. Athletic identity can be defined as a social role or an occupational self-image incorporated of the social, behavioral, cognitive, and affective, obligations associated with athletic identification. Due to the entertainment nature of our culture, elite athletes are socially reinforced for their physical abilities and success. Unfortunately due to this, a majority of athletes conceptualize their identity and “self” based upon athletic performance and their limited social identity (i.e., self-worth and self-definition) as an athlete (Beamon, 2012). Beamon coins this limitation as identity foreclosure. Identity foreclosure can be defined as a commitment to an identity before one has meaningfully explored other options or engaged in exploratory behavior, such as career exploration, talent development, or joining social clubs or interest groups.
As a result, in an attempt to discover effective solutions, a number of sport psychologists have advocated that coping literature has the potential to enhance personal excellence of athletes through the development of successful coping styles or “life skills” (Lavallee, 2005). According to Lavallee, life skills can be defined as adaptive skills or abilities that enables an individual to effectively deal with everyday challenges. Not only do these skills enable individuals to deal with life’s challenges but these skills hold life-long value such as performing under pressure, communicating effectively with others, setting and attaining goals, and accepting criticism and feedback as part of learning. Since research has demonstrated that there can be developmental costs associated with...