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Prior studies suggest that 16% to 20% of athletes experience difficulties transitioning out of competitive sports. Additionally, numerous variables have been reported to impact different outcomes during an athlete’s adjustment. This article aimed to describe the impact of an elite athlete’s transition out of sport from a holistic, multi-dimensional health perspective. Additionally, this article examined factors that prior research has associated with adjustment outcomes. Participants were 483 retired elite athletes who participated in the Athlete Transition Study. Results suggested that approximately half of the athletes experience significant concerns or difficulties with their cognitive, mental, physical, or social health, and about a third engaged in risky or harmful behaviors. Eight variables commonly associated with transition difficulties were analyzed using a holistic health questionnaire as the outcome variable, and qualitative data were collected. Experiencing a sudden retirement, such as when an athlete endures a career-ending injury or is deselected from a roster, accounted for 10.3% of the variance and was the most predictive variable assessed. Career satisfaction, athlete identity, the positivity of team atmosphere, and gender accounted for an additional 12% of variance. The lack of a comparison group, the over-representation of White women athletes, and the use of convenience sampling and retrospective data limited this study.

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1Present address: 2152 Renard Court, Annapolis, MD 21041, USA.


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