A conceptual model of the athlete retirement decision-making process

Sunghee Park *, David Lavallee ** and David Tod ***

(*) College of Physical Education and Sport Science, Kookmin University, South Korea
(**) School of Sport, University of Stirling, UK
(***) Department of Psychology, Aberystwyth University, UK


Park, S., Lavallee, D., Tod, D. (2013). A conceptual model of the athlete retirement decision-making process. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 44(5), 409-428. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2013.44.409


The purpose of this article is to provide new ways of understanding athletes’ retirement decision-making process, and its influences on the quality of career transition. Existing literature from both within sport career transition study area and outside the sport domain informing the development of a conceptual model which focuses on explaining the final stages of athletes’ sporting careers and retirement decision-making process. The model helps predict changes in athletes’ behaviours and psychological reactions through the process by providing explanation of: (a) what steps athletes go through during the final stages of their sporting careers; (b) potential influential factors for athletes’ retirement decision; (c) how athletes change their psychological reactions and behaviours towards their retirement; and (d) potential intervention strategies to assist athletes’ career transition out of sport process.

Keywords: Athletes’ retirement, Decision-making, Stages of change, Transition