Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Kinesiology & Public Health Education


There are many reasons individuals enter and sustain involvement in sport. There are also many reasons people drop out of sport, discontinue at a specific intensity level or change sports altogether. Many athletes from a four year elite level softball training program (the Sask First High Performance Program) are not continuing at an elite level after completing the program. The purpose of this study was to identify factors that have contributed to discontinuation based on interviews of continuing and discontinued athletes from the program. All interviews were conducted via telephone. The interviews were taped, transcribed and analyzed by the author, a former Sask First athlete. Interview responses regarding perception of burnout, training loads, perceived competence, group cohesion, and personal/situational factors were examined. Athletes were also given the opportunity to provide recommendations to enhance the continuation of participation at an elite level for current and future athletes.

Attrition was evident as twelve of twenty-four athletes are not presently playing at an elite level. Sport transference was apparent as eight of twelve are playing softball at a lower level and six are coaching or instructing softball. Six of twelve are planning to reenter elite softball.

Personal and situational factors such as the location of the competitive team, career, and significant others were cited as reasons for discontinuation. Despite this, most discontinued players stated they would have continued playing at an elite level if the Sask First team could have stayed together, if elite players could have stayed within close proximity, and if they could have had an elite level coach. Dissatisfactoin with opportunities to move to a higher level following Sask First was apparent. Among the players still playing elite softball, the love of the game was cited as the reason for continuing. Most of these players have to travel to play on an elite team. It was also important to them to have an elite level coach following Sask First and it was important to them to continue to play with the Sask First athletes after completion of the program.

In conclusion, no single factor is primarily responsible for ceasing participation at an elite level. Systemic problems in the softball organization such as coaching and teams available following the program have a significant impact on players' decisions to discontinue elite level play. Social exchange theory and the weighing of costs and benefits as well as weighing alternatives appear to have significant merit in this study.