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ERIC Number: EJ1084014
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1740-8989
Moving into and out of High-Performance Sport: The Cultural Learning of an Artistic Gymnast
Barker-Ruchti, Natalie; Schubring, Astrid
Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, v21 n1 p69-80 2016
Background: High-performance sport has been described as a formative environment through which athletes learn sporting skills but also develop athletic selves. Within this process, career movements related to selection for and de-selection from representative teams constitute critical moments. Further, retirement from sport can be problematic as the athletic self becomes "obsolete". This dilemma is acute in sports that demand an early entry, extreme time investments and a high risk of retirement before adulthood. Women's artistic gymnastics (WAG) is such a sport. Purpose and scope: This article considers an artistic gymnast's (Marie) experiences of movement into and out of this sport. Marie's construction and reconstruction of her athletic self when she entered gymnastics at the age of six, relocated to a different city in order to train with the national team at the age of 15, and retired from the sport one year later receives particular attention. Method and theoretical perspective: An in-depth biographical interview was conducted with Marie. Further, the first author's personal knowledge of this gymnast's career experiences was used for contextualisation. The analysis of data involved the identification of learning outcomes during her time in high-performance WAG and post-retirement. Storied accounts surrounding the key learning experiences were compiled. In order to understand Marie's learning, cultural perspective of learning developed by education scholars and the respective metaphors of "learning as becoming" and "horizons for action" and "horizons of learning" are employed. Findings: Marie's choice of relocating to train with the national team involved her assuming a temporary orientation towards the requirements of the high-performance WAG context she entered. To achieve this, Marie suppressed the dispositions she had brought to this setting and adjusted her training philosophy, relationship with her coach, diet and socialising. Further, despite Marie intending to only momentarily adjust to the practices of the high-performance context, her learning was deep. Upon retiring from gymnastics, she could not leave the high-performance gymnastics self behind. The subsequent process to adjust to life without gymnastics was difficult and testing, and could only be realised with professional treatment. Conclusion: Learning in sport is not limited to athletic skills. Athletes' selves are formed in interaction with sporting contexts and actors. This embodiment can become durable and cause significant conflict when moving out of sport. To handle life without sport, adjustment may be challenging and lengthy. Recommendations: Sporting cultures should allow for more interactive learning and athlete diversity. Coaching practices that allow athletes to voice difficulties should be provided. Athletes should be encouraged to reflect upon their sporting experiences and upon leaving high-performance sport, should be (professionally) supported.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A