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Last updated:

April 7, 2022


Unlimited Duration


This course includes:

Unlimited Duration

Badge on Completion

Certificate of completion

Unlimited Duration


Are you a coach working with athletes of different ages? Are you a parent whose child has shown potential in sport?

Perhaps you are an athlete looking ahead at your potential journey and choices through and beyond the sporting pathway? Whatever your involvement in sport, this course will help you understand the journey an athlete undertakes during their career, whether as a professional or recreational athlete, and the nature of support they may need at different times.

The athlete’s journey through sport can be characterised by several transitions and periods of change and each athlete’s journey will be experienced in a different way. In this free course, The athlete’s journey: transitions through sport, you will explore the psychological challenges of some of these transitions and the impact they can have on the athlete. This course will offer you practical guidance, whether you support athletes as a coach or parent or whether you are an athlete yourself, and draws on a wealth of case study and audio-visual material to bring the athlete’s journey to life.

The course is introduced by former England hockey player and Olympic gold medallist Alex Danson. Watch the video below to see what she has to say.

Enrolling on the course will give you the opportunity to earn an Open University digital badge. Badges are not accredited by The Open University but they're a great way to demonstrate your interest in the subject and commitment to your career, and to provide evidence of continuing professional development.

Once you are signed in, you can manage your digital badges online from My OpenLearn. In addition, you can download and print your OpenLearn statement of participation − which also displays your Open University badge.

The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course before you begin, in our optional start-of-course survey . Once you complete the course we would also value your feedback and suggestions for future improvement, in our optional end-of-course survey . Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others.

Earn this free Open University digital badge if you complete this course! The badge can be displayed, shared and downloaded as a marker of your achievement. The badge is awarded for completing the course and passing the quizzes.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • Understand what career transitions in sport are
  • Identify the main challenges associated with career transitions in sport
  • Recognise how best to prepare athletes for career transitions
  • Identify the impact of different transitional episodes on athletes.

Course Curriculum

    • Introduction and guidance 00:20:00
    • What is a badged course? 00:15:00
    • How to get a badge 00:15:00
    • Introduction 00:15:00
    • What factors influence transitions? 00:20:00
    • Athletic identity: who am I? 00:20:00
    • How athletic identity affects responses to transitions 00:20:00
    • Level of participation 00:10:00
    • Is ‘type of sport’ relevant? 00:15:00
    • Preparation and support 00:20:00
    • Reflecting on your own experience of transitions 00:15:00
    • This session’s quiz 00:10:00
    • Summary of Session 2 00:10:00
    • Introduction 00:15:00
    • The need for a life outside sport 00:30:00
    • Performance lifestyle 00:20:00
    • The five-step career planning strategy 00:20:00
    • Other strategies: coping with the unexpected 00:20:00
    • This session’s quiz 00:10:00
    • Summary of Session 3 00:10:00
    • Introduction 00:10:00
    • What are normative transitions? 00:15:00
    • Lifespan perspective 00:10:00
    • Upward and downward transitions 00:25:00
    • Reflecting on normative transitions 00:15:00
    • This session’s quiz 00:10:00
    • Summary of Session 4 00:15:00
    • Introduction 00:15:00
    • What are non-normative transitions? 00:20:00
    • Spotlight: sport injury 00:15:00
    • Return to sport 00:20:00
    • Career-ending injuries 00:15:00
    • Reflecting on non-normative transitions 00:10:00
    • This session’s quiz 00:10:00
    • Summary of Session 5 00:10:00
    • Introduction 00:10:00
    • Combining parenthood and elite sport 00:15:00
    • The athletic mother 00:30:00
    • The challenges of being a sporting parent 00:15:00
    • Positive impacts: is parenthood the key to success? 00:15:00
    • This session’s quiz 00:10:00
    • Summary of Session 6 00:15:00
    • Introduction 00:10:00
    • The reality of retirement 01:00:00
    • Why do athletes retire? 00:15:00
    • The impact of retirement – positive or negative? 00:20:00
    • Coming out the other side: coping with retirement 00:30:00
    • But I can’t let go! 00:15:00
    • This session’s quiz 00:10:00
    • Summary of Session 7 00:10:00
    • Introduction 00:10:00
    • Making a successful transition 00:20:00
    • Case study 1: Lizzy Yarnold 00:20:00
    • Case study 2: Kristian Thomas 00:15:00
    • Case study 3: Josh Lukwata 00:20:00
    • Case study 4: Olympic athlete panel 02:00:00
    • Bringing it all together 00:20:00
    • This session’s quiz 00:10:00
    • Summary of Session 8 00:10:00

About the instructor

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