Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Hasan F. Mavi


Athletes are unique groups of individuals who make a career out of sports. They face challenges to get into a sport, to stay in it and to adapt to life after their athletic career. The primary objective of this study was to explore the challenges and experiences that Japanese student-athletes encounter when they terminate their athletic career. More specifically, this study examined personal and sport characteristics, emotional responses, psychosocial support, coping strategies and other variables (e.g., gender, athletic identity) that may have impacted the athlete's reactions to career termination. Participants were 76 former Japanese student-athletes (ages 22-38 years; M= 38, F= 38) from various sports (Basketball= 26, Tennis= 13, Badminton= 10, and Handball= 9). Data was collected through an online questionnaire with 6 sections: General; Sport Biographical Data; Reasons and Preparation for Sports Career Termination; Transitional Period (Emotional Responses, Psychosocial Support and Coping Strategies); Athletic Identity (AI); and Sports Career Effects. Responses were indicated on a 5-point Likert scale, as well as a forced-choice and open-ended format. Data were analyzed by using descriptive statistics for participants' characteristics. Group differences were explored by using an independent t-test. The findings of this study provided insight into student athletes' perceptions of career termination related variables. Japanese student-athletes (64 participants) decided to end their career voluntarily, while only 12 participants ended their career because of job related reasons (finding a good professional position, graduation from University). Nearly half of the participants felt that they needed time to adjust to their new life after their sport career ended. Their main emotional response to career termination in this study could be described as more relaxation and less aggression. The student-athletes felt that psychologists, counselors, college staff members, and coaches were the least supportive groups during their transitional period after their sport career ended. Although there was not a significant result, it is interesting to note that there were higher AI mean scores in the female participants. Female student-athletes tended to feel more relieved, happy, joyful, free, sense of accomplishment and less anxious, uncertain, and empty than the male student-athletes. Female and male athletes were using similar coping strategies to deal with career termination, except that females preferred to spend time talking with others to make them feel better. Females perceived themselves to gain benefits/skills from their sports more than men, including empathy, communication skills, interpersonal relationship skills, and knowledge and skills for their current profession. Evidence indicated some Japanese student-athletes have been struggling with athletic career termination similar to their western counter parts (Alfermann & Stambulova, 2007; Murdock, et al., 2016).