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Athletic retirement is described as a life transition involving withdrawal from the athletic role. Throughout the process of athletic retirement, individuals experience a loss of identity, roles, routines, and social support which has shown to negatively impact their overall mental health and well-being (Marterella & Smoot, 2017). This study investigated elite athletes’ experiences throughout their transition to athletic retirement, a ten-question online survey and semi-structured interviews were administered. Themes that emerged from the data are occupational adjustment and relearning roles, experiencing a crossroads of identity, external expectations, and pressures. Participants shared experiencing a period of burnout and detachment right after transitioning out of their sport while still maintaining a strong athletic identity. Participants also described feelings of unpreparedness due to a lack of appropriate resources for this transition. These findings identify the potential roles for occupational therapy services for this population which include engaging in health-promoting occupations, establishing new identities, redefining roles and routines, and prevention strategies.

Publication Date



University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences


athletic retirement, collegiate athletes, mental health, occupational therapy, transition

Medical Subject Headings

Athletes, Retirement, Mental Health, Social Support, Psychological Burnout, Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy | Sports Medicine


Poster presented at the Virtual OTD Capstone Symposium, held online at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences August 5-11, 2022.

Occupational Therapy's Role in Athletic Retirement

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