Achievement Despite Adversity: A Qualitative Investigation of Undrafted National Hockey League Players
The extent to which athletes from various sports and competition levels overcome adversity has been a topic of interest in sport psychology for some time. In recognizing the theoretical and practical implications derived from this line of inquiry, the current study sought to further our understanding by investigating a sample of elite athletes who were expected to share long-term objectives, and who had experienced a common adversity. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 professional athletes (Mage = 27.25; SD = 3.28) who had reached the National Hockey League (NHL; i.e., long-term objective) despite not being selected in the annual NHL Amateur Entry Draft (i.e., common adversity). As a general summary, four higher-order themes were gleaned from participant responses, including information pertaining to experienced adversities and stressors (e.g., organizational stressors), long-term objectives of playing in the NHL, psychological attributes (e.g., passion, focus) and mechanisms for goal attainment (e.g., deliberate practice, perceived social support). Interestingly, contextually relevant information emerged pertaining to the developmental stream that participants had taken (i.e., NCAA vs. Major Junior). Overall, our findings are in concert with previous literature that suggests the influence of various psychosocial factors for goal achievement when faced with adversity (e.g., Howells & Fletcher, 2015; Tamminen, Holt, & Neely, 2013). Additionally, our findings indicate that an athletes’ ability to identify and address weaknesses following adversity is a main contributor to their subsequent success. Although undrafted NHL players were recruited because of their shared adversity, participants shared similar experiences as other elite athletes in describing a variety of adversities that contributed to their eventual achievement (e.g., Sarkar & Fletcher, 2014a). Future research could benefit from a longitudinal approach building from this study’s design, whereby athletes are interviewed prior to, during, and following the draft process, to gain insight into the timing and implementation of the factors and experiences that facilitate achievement despite adversity.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/15637
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