Article

Juggling Motherhood and Sport: A Qualitative Study of the Negotiation of Competitive Recreational Athlete Mother Identities

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Abstract

Objectives: Qualitative research on physically active mothers has shown that recreational sport allows for personal, social and cultural barriers to be renegotiated in ways that facilitate well-being and sport participation. The purpose of this study was to extend this understanding by examining competitive recreational athlete mothers' negotiation of sport training and competition in relation to their identities. Design: A qualitative approach grounded in social constructionism and discursive psychology was used to theorize athlete mother identities as constructed within nuanced cultural discourses, with multiple meanings and effects (e.g., psychological, social, behavioural) on women’s psychological, training and parental experiences. Method: An interpretive thematic analysis (TA) was conducted on in-depth interviews with 7 North American recreational athlete mothers, who train to compete in national and/or international sport competitions. Results: A central theme constructed multiple meanings of motherhood and athletic experiences: juggling motherhood and sport. The meanings of motherhood and sport were multiple and fluid depending on three sub-themes, which were used as strategies to negotiate identities as athletes and mothers: 1. adjustment of training and competition; 2. support as multifaceted and negotiated; and 3. reciprocity of motherhood and sport. These themes highlight the nuanced ways in which juggling motherhood and sport are negotiated in relation to socially constructed identities, in constraining and emancipative ways. Conclusions: This study extends research on the social construction of cultural identities in sport psychology and work on athlete mother identities into competitive recreational athletics.

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... Researchers conducted two additional studies on distance running for mothers of young children to expand understanding of the tensions that women experience when navigating full-time work, running, and family demands, linked to identity. In the first study, McGannon et al. (2018) explored seven women's experiences as competitive recreational athlete mothers, five of whom were distance runners (e.g., marathon, ultramarathon). Key findings identified were that mother runner identities were shaped in a discourse of "balance" that pressured women to uphold family harmony at the expense of running. ...
... By being flexible with running, Kay's just go with it story allowed for freedom from constraint in spheres of running and the family and the experience of more enjoyment from running (Appleby & Fisher, 2009;McGannon et al., 2019). Although this strategy was useful, it may constrain running when family needs are pressing, resulting in fewer options to run (Bean & Wimbs, 2021;McGannon et al., 2018). ...
... Prompts about running may need to be done in a "casual way" so that women do not have to ask others, again making it likely that some women will not run if the family does not express interest. This finding also shows the nuanced precarity of social support in a relational narrative as mothers clearly need support for running but may struggle with requesting assistance, lest it appear selfish and/or disrupt the family (Bean & Wimbs, 2021;McGannon et al., 2018). Ultimately, all three women had supportive male partners who featured in their stories, which allowed them to (re)negotiate tensions of a performance narrative and good motherhood. ...
Article
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Despite the focus on motherhood and sport participation in recent years, the motherhood and recreational sport participation nexus is not well-understood. Using an instrumental case study, we explored running facilitators for competitive recreational mother runners, to advance research using a novel theory (i.e., narrative inquiry). We used a dialogical narrative analysis to identify a key theme of ‘good mother runners: negotiating freedom and constraint’. Findings are presented using a storyteller approach in the form of three portrait characters who each tell a story of facilitators grounded in a ‘relational narrative’ that provided freedom to run, in the context of good motherhood. The features of the relational narrative are shown in three non-fiction vignettes: Susan’s story ‘running is what we do’, Tracy’s story ‘running isn’t just for me it’s for them’ and Kay’s story ‘just go with it’. Interpretive reflections of the stories using narrative theory are offered. We conclude with practical recommendations and future research directions for mothers’ competitive running participation.
... Becoming a parent is one of the most significant experiences in life, but this transition phase is notably under researched in athlete-as-worker research (Tekavc et al., 2020). However, there is a small but growing body of research dedicated to the exploration of elite women athletes and motherhood (Appleby and Fisher, 2009;Douglas and Carless, 2009;McGannon et al., 2018;Darroch et al., 2019;Tekavc et al., 2020). The discursive discourse surrounding pregnancy and maternity is fairly contradictory (Darroch and Hillsburg, 2017). ...
... More recently, Tekavc et al. (2020) highlight the careful planning involved in pregnancy, with athletic careers of women dictating the time women conceive. This body of research suggests a meshing of cultural discourse and sports constructs elite mother athlete identities and their associated meanings in different ways (Douglas and Carless, 2009;McGannon et al., 2018). ...
... Research that explores the experiences of elite athlete mothers highlights how mothers navigate gendered ideologies, such as the expected behaviours of a "good mother, " which can make mothers vulnerable to guilt and psychological distress if they cannot live up to expectations (Appleby and Fisher, 2009;McGannon et al., 2018). In this regard, research has found that elite athlete mothers experience extreme guilt when returning to their sport, as competition schedules dictate that athletes spend much time away from home, thus missing the milestones of their child and so on (Palmer and Leberman, 2009). ...
Article
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There has been an advancement of professionalisation of women's football globally. Professional women's football in England has grown exponentially since the inception of the Football Association (FA) Women's Super League in 2011. This article offers an examination of the gender-specific needs of women as professional footballers, focusing specifically on the distinctive aspect of maternity policy. Sportswomen often feel compelled to make the difficult decision between motherhood and an athletic career. Contracts have become an essential component of the work-life of professional women footballers. However, these contracts pose questions regarding organisational intentions and motivations. This study draws on 30 semi-structured interviews with professional women footballers in England. Our key considerations include contracts, employment, motherhood, and athletes' bodies. This examination will develop our understanding of the complexities associated with professional football as a career choice for women.
... By accepting an adjusted identity meaning, it may be realistic for a mother to confirm her exercise identity (Burke & Stets, 2009); identity confirmation should promote continued exercise (Rhodes et al., 2016). Research by McGannon et al. (2018) found that recreational athletes negotiated their mother athlete roles through altering when they trained, prioritizing training quality over quantity, and including their children in training. Through these strategies, mothers were able to manage their athletic pursuits and maintain their physical activity with less internal conflict (McGannon et al., 2018). ...
... Research by McGannon et al. (2018) found that recreational athletes negotiated their mother athlete roles through altering when they trained, prioritizing training quality over quantity, and including their children in training. Through these strategies, mothers were able to manage their athletic pursuits and maintain their physical activity with less internal conflict (McGannon et al., 2018). ...
... Self-compassionate mothers reported that their exercise interfered with being a mother to a lesser extent than mothers low in SC. Past research has also found that women were more accepting of leisure opportunities if they felt such activities would enhance their mother role (McGannon et al., 2018). Together, these findings suggest that self-compassionate women exercisers may be open to an adjusted, and likely more realistic, exercise identity standard upon becoming mothers. ...
Article
Adjusting identity standards may be preferable to relentless pursuit or abandonment of an identity when facing an identity-challenging life transition. Self-compassion (SC) can help people adjust to challenges. The authors examined whether SC was associated with identity adjustment, exercise, and the moderating effect of identity–behavior discrepancy in 279 women exercisers who reported reduced exercise in motherhood. Participants completed the Self-Compassion Scale and reported the extent of and reflected on their identity discrepant behavior (reduced exercise). Reactions to discrepancy (acceptance, shame, guilt, and rumination), correlates of identity adjustment (subjective well-being, autonomous motivation, controlled motivation, and role conflict), and exercise behavior were assessed. SC associated positively with acceptance, correlates of successful identity adjustment, and exercise behavior. SC associated negatively with shame, rumination, and correlates of unsuccessful adjustment. SC may help exercise-identifying women who exercise less after becoming mothers adaptively cope with this identity challenge and continue exercising.
... Parenthood is often a time when an individual's physical activity (PA), and particularly leisure time PA (LTPA), reduces (Bellows-Riecken & Rhodes, 2008;Saxbe et al., 2018). In particular, LTPA reduces for mothers, and especially those from lower socio-economic backgrounds (Bellows-Riecken & Rhodes, 2008;Hamilton & White, 2012;Mailey & Hsu, 2019;McGannon et al., 2018;McGannon & Schinke, 2013;McIntyre & Rhodes, 2009;Miller & Brown, 2005). Mothers are generally less active than fathers (Burton & Turrell, 2000;Milkie et al., 2004), but their LTPA is also less vigorous (Rhodes et al., 2014), less frequent and more likely to be unstructured and incidental (Hamilton & White, 2012). ...
... Mothers' leisure is therefore both more limited and less restorative (Nomaguchi et al., 2005). Given the difficulties of carving out time for leisure, mothers' LTPA must often be structured and carefully planned and involves the challenge of negotiating personal time (Brown et al., 2001;McGannon et al., 2018), which can reduce the positive effects (Wattis et al., 2013) and create family conflict (Pagnan et al., 2017). However, when partners are supportive, PA for mothers is more likely (Mailey et al., 2014). ...
... Mothers seem to have a distinctive experience of time (Bittman & Wajcman, 2000) and face unique barriers to LTPA, often as a product of their fraught everyday lives (Hamilton & White, 2012: 276;Saxbe et al., 2018) and feelings of hurriedness (Southerton & Tomlinson, 2005) and the temporal characteristics of mothering that can make LTPA participation difficult. Research emphasises how mothers become skilful negotiators and jugglers of their identities and time (Batey & Owton, 2014;Evans & Allen-Collinson, 2016;McGannon et al., 2018;Palmer & Leberman, 2009;Spowart et al., 2008Spowart et al., , 2010. However, under-explored are the specific temporalities of mothering that condition the necessity for such mastery in negotiating identities or "carving out time" (Mailey et al., 2014) for LTPA, and the sociocultural conditions shaping women's capacity for resistance. ...
Article
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The reduced physical activity of women when they become mothers is a public health priority. Existing studies show that mothers have little time for leisure, or time that is fragmented and requiring negotiation with others. However, the temporal features of mothering are undertheorised and qualitative studies tend to focus on how mothers can skilfully construct physically active identities and balance societal expectations about being a “good mother”. In line with other research that focuses on the configuration of everyday practices that condition the “possibilities” for health‐related practices like physical activity, we shift our focus away from the resisting capacities of mothers to the temporal features of mothering practices. We interrogate the lived experiences of 15 mothers of preschool children in deprived urban areas and illuminate the inherent temporal dimensions, demands and dispositions of mothering practices that condition the possibility of leisure time physical activity being undertaken. Together, these temporal features mean mothering practices can readily work against leisure time physical activity. The focus on the mothering practices rather than mothers brings a novel perspective for developing public health policy designed to support mothers into regular leisure time physical activity.
... Several authors (e.g. McGannon, Gonsalves, Schinke, and Busanich 2015;McGannon, McMahon, and Gonsalves 2018) reported that elite athlete-mothers experience tensions in 'juggling motherhood and sport' , and they need to develop coping strategies to be able to combine both, and also avoid feelings of guilt when they train, perform, and travel. The authors emphasized the importance of positive athlete-mother narratives encouraging females to continue in sports after giving birth. ...
... Throughout their handball careers, female players tried to adopt the dominant (and male-oriented) performance narrative, and when they did feel a poor fit with it, they developed side storylines related to their academic, social, gender, and cultural identities (e.g. . For example, at some point they had to navigate their Swedish female identity in relation to gendered cultural values and norms McGannon, McMahon, and Gonsalves 2018) prescribing women to have family, kids, and a job different from just 'throwing a ball' . Pregnancy was seen as an important turn in life but also a barrier for continuing the professional handball career. ...
... Pregnancy was seen as an important turn in life but also a barrier for continuing the professional handball career. While several females tried to make a comeback and 'juggle motherhood and sport' (McGannon, McMahon, and Gonsalves 2018), others preferred to invest in family life and get a job in line with their previous education. ...
Thesis
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This PhD Project with a specialization in sport psychology is inspired by the cultural praxis of athletes’ careers paradigm. This implies that the Project blends theory, research, and practice within the context of Swedish handball, by investigating career pathways of professional players providing empirically based, and context specific, implications. The overarching aim of the Project is twofold: (a) to examine the career experiences of Swedish professional handball players and consolidate them into the empirical career model of Swedish professional handball players (ECM-H), and (b) based on the ECM-H, to develop, validate, and test an applied framework promoting career-long psychological support services in Swedish handball (CPS-H). The first aim is covered by Study I and II, and the second aim is met in Study III and IV. The dissertation is designed as a collection of four articles with one article per study. Study I focused on a qualitative exploration of career experiences from 18 Swedish professional handball players including major career stages and transitions in their athletic and non-athletic development. The players’ accounts were consolidated into the ECM-H describing the context-specific features and pathways throughout the handball career. When developing the ECM-H, gender-specific issues appeared of interest for further investigation. Gender issues were addressed in Study II by re-analyzing the data from Study I. Two composite vignettes were created describing the career pathways of nine male and nine female players. Study III initiated a move from research to practice. Based on the ECM-H, applied sport psychology literature and experiences of the research team led by the first author, the applied framework CPS-H was heuristically developed and validated in three focus groups with end users; professional players, coaches, and sport psychology practitioners. The validated version of the CPS-H is presented with general and career stage-specific recommendations for its implementation among support providers (i.e., where, when, what, who, why, and how of psychological support service). Study IV was designed as an instrumental case study for testing a part of the CPS-H framework. More specifically, the mastery career stage. A career assistance program (CAP) named Life as a professional handball player was developed for, implemented with, and evaluated by a Swedish League team. The program included eight workshops dealing with various aspects of the players’ athletic and non-athletic life (e.g., performance, training, lifestyle, recovery, future planning), together with crisis-related issues (e.g., coping with uncertainty). These workshops were delivered by the first author during 12 weeks of a competitive season. The mixed-methods evaluation revealed a perceived improvement in players’ personal coping resources (e.g., increased awareness) and a decrease in their fatigue and stress. This Project contributes to the athlete career sport psychology discourse and the emerging athlete mental health discourse by presenting the ECM-H and CPS-H frameworks, and the CAP Life as a professional handball player, grounded in the cultural context of Swedish handball. The frameworks and CAP can serve as inspiration for future research and practice, informed by a cultural praxis. The Project shows the usefulness of working as a scientist-practitioner and establishing theory researchpractice-context links for the promotion of culturally informed implications, and supports the work of facilitating a holistic understanding of athletes’ striving for healthy, successful, and long-lasting careers in sport and life. Keywords: Career assistance program, Career development, Career transitions, Cultural praxis, Empirical career model, Handball.
... Several authors (e.g. McGannon, Gonsalves, Schinke, and Busanich 2015;McGannon, McMahon, and Gonsalves 2018) reported that elite athlete-mothers experience tensions in 'juggling motherhood and sport' , and they need to develop coping strategies to be able to combine both, and also avoid feelings of guilt when they train, perform, and travel. The authors emphasized the importance of positive athlete-mother narratives encouraging females to continue in sports after giving birth. ...
... Throughout their handball careers, female players tried to adopt the dominant (and male-oriented) performance narrative, and when they did feel a poor fit with it, they developed side storylines related to their academic, social, gender, and cultural identities (e.g. . For example, at some point they had to navigate their Swedish female identity in relation to gendered cultural values and norms McGannon, McMahon, and Gonsalves 2018) prescribing women to have family, kids, and a job different from just 'throwing a ball' . Pregnancy was seen as an important turn in life but also a barrier for continuing the professional handball career. ...
... Pregnancy was seen as an important turn in life but also a barrier for continuing the professional handball career. While several females tried to make a comeback and 'juggle motherhood and sport' (McGannon, McMahon, and Gonsalves 2018), others preferred to invest in family life and get a job in line with their previous education. ...
... Several authors (e.g. McGannon, Gonsalves, Schinke, and Busanich 2015;McGannon, McMahon, and Gonsalves 2018) reported that elite athlete-mothers experience tensions in 'juggling motherhood and sport' , and they need to develop coping strategies to be able to combine both, and also avoid feelings of guilt when they train, perform, and travel. The authors emphasized the importance of positive athlete-mother narratives encouraging females to continue in sports after giving birth. ...
... Franck and Stambulova 2018). For example, at some point they had to navigate their Swedish female identity in relation to gendered cultural values and norms (Ryba, Ronkainen, and Selänne 2015;McGannon, McMahon, and Gonsalves 2018) prescribing women to have family, kids, and a job different from just 'throwing a ball' . Pregnancy was seen as an important turn in life but also a barrier for continuing the professional handball career. ...
... Pregnancy was seen as an important turn in life but also a barrier for continuing the professional handball career. While several females tried to make a comeback and 'juggle motherhood and sport' (McGannon, McMahon, and Gonsalves 2018), others preferred to invest in family life and get a job in line with their previous education. ...
Article
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The aim of this study was to describe gender-specific career paths of Swedish professional handball players. A reanalysis of Ekengren et al. (2018 Ekengren, J., N. B. Stambulova, U. Johnson, and I.-M. Carlsson. 2018. “Exploring Career Experiences of Swedish Professional Handball Players: Consolidating First-Hand Information into an Empirical Career Model.” International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/1612197X.2018.1486872.[Taylor & Francis Online] , [Google Scholar]) career interviews with nine male and nine female players led to creating two composite vignettes using the athletes’ own words, accounted for typical features in the male and female players’ career paths. Seven themes were identified in the analysis of the men’s transcripts and eight themes derived from the women’s transcripts. Further, the themes of both vignettes were aligned with career stages described in our previous study (Ekengren et al. 2018 Ekengren, J., N. B. Stambulova, U. Johnson, and I.-M. Carlsson. 2018. “Exploring Career Experiences of Swedish Professional Handball Players: Consolidating First-Hand Information into an Empirical Career Model.” International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/1612197X.2018.1486872.[Taylor & Francis Online] , [Google Scholar]). The male players’ vignette is interpreted as a performance narrative congruent with elite handball culture that promotes performance success and profitable professional contracts. The female players’ vignette is more holistic, embracing handball, studies, motherhood, and how they ought to be as Swedish women. Recommendations for future research are provided.
... The mere presence of elite athlete mothers reaching performance goals does not show the complicated interplay of cultural narratives that circulate ideas about athletics and motherhood, which impact psychological well-being and sport participation. Such notions are grounded in social constructionism, whereby individual, social, and cultural narratives interact to create athlete and mother identity meanings and actions (Douglas & Carless, 2009;McGannon, McMahon, & Gonsalves, 2018;Ronkainen, Watkins, & Ryba, 2016). Social constructionist studies exploring elite athlete mothers' experiences have shown that they navigate gender ideologies (i.e., expected behaviors based on cultural norms) linked to "good mother" ideals and an ethic of care (Darroch & Hillsburg, 2017) that emphasize caregiving over training, making them vulnerable to guilt and psychological distress (Appleby & Fisher, 2009). ...
... Researchers have problematized this narrative because it leaves athletes with a false sense of agency, to the exclusion of developing other aspects of identity and resources with which to adapt when performance goals fall short, personal setbacks occur, or athletes retire (Carless & Douglas, 2013;Howells & Fletcher, 2015;Newman et al., 2016). These narrow meanings of a singular athlete identity and rigid path to get there coalesce an incompatible athlete identity with motherhood, as pregnancy necessitates training adjustments (Darroch et al., 2016;Erdener & Budgett, 2016;McGannon et al., 2018) and "good motherhood" ideals require a singular focus, making parenthood and high-level performance inconceivable (Cosh & Crabb, 2012;Douglas & Carless, 2009). ...
... (Pavey, 2016, p. 146) Although the notion of pregnancy and motherhood as redemption for unattained performance goals expanded identity possibilities, such meanings can be problematic if motherhood and athletics are viewed as separate, questioning the possibility of continuing an athletic career (Darroch & Hillsburg, 2017;McGannon et al., 2012). Such ideals continue to reinforce notions that women's true calling is motherhood, rendering athletics and parenthood incompatible, centralizing motherhood in women's lives over athletics (Appleby & Fisher, 2009;McGannon et al., 2018) or downplaying the significance of sport (McGannon et al., 2012). We see these points negotiated in Pavey's journey once pregnant as she noted, "I was certain that it signaled the end of my athletic life as I'd known it, and I was totally content about that" (Pavey 2016, p. 150). ...
Article
Within sport psychology researchers have explored elite athlete mothers’ experiences (Appleby & Fisher, 2009; McGannon, Gonsalves, Schinke & Busanich, 2015). More work is needed to understand the nuanced psychosocial aspects of their athletic journeys. Studying autobiographical narratives is useful toward understanding the psychosocial nuances of motherhood and athletics in sociocultural context. Within the present study we sought to extend this understanding through studying one elite athlete’s – British runner Jo Pavey—journey as an athlete mother within her autobiography “This Mum Runs” (26 chapters totaling 253 pages). Thematic narrative analysis of key chapters focusing on pregnancy and motherhood in relation to training and competition allowed for the identification of a central theme: discovery narrative--reconfiguring the performance narrative, along with two sub-themes: go with the flow and best of both worlds. The sub-themes are used to illustrate the navigation of tensions in relation to an athlete mother identity grounded in family relationships to facilitate training and competition goals, within a discovery narrative. Applied sport psychology recommendations are made using narrative theory in relation to key findings. Recommendations focused on athlete stories and narrative resources as concrete entry points to encourage compatible athlete mother identities and sport career engagement. This study adds to sport psychology work that has utilized autobiography as theoretical, analytical and applied resources to expand understanding of marginalized and/or hard to access topics in elite sport. This is the first autobiographic study to focus on elite athlete mother identities, furthering understanding of nuanced identity negotiation and experiences over time.
... Despite sport participation decreasing for many women once they become mothers (McGannon & McMahon, 2021;McGannon et al., 2018;Tekavc et al., 2020) female athletes -from the recreational, to the competitive, to the elite level -have demonstrated that motherhood does not signal the end of sport engagement and athletic identities (McGannon et al., 2019) or career/leadership roles (Leberman & LaVoi, 2011). Sport is filled with examples of women returning to elite level performance, with great success, after giving birth. ...
... Running head: Contextualizing Motherhood and Sport 9 As gendered patterns of work, leisure and family have altered 'good mother' meanings and associated practices, qualitative researchers have opened conversations concerning 'balancing' motherhood and sport (McGannon et al., 2018;Spowart et al., 2010), problematizing recreational sport participation further for working mothers. The research in this regard has diversified to include traditional and 'lifestyle' sport contexts at the elite, competitive-recreational and recreational participation levels, also using interviews with mothers. ...
Chapter
Motherhood marks a transition in many women's lives when sports participation decreases due to child rearing responsibilities and “good motherhood ideals.” However, female athletes, at all levels, have also shown that motherhood is not incompatible with sport participation. In some instances, athletes have achieved their best sporting performances after childbirth. Qualitative researchers have shown that studying mothers’ engagement in sport has the potential to expand our understanding of the complexity and cultural discourses, norms, and practices surrounding contemporary motherhood. This chapter provides an overview of the proliferation of research concerning motherhood, before contextualizing qualitative research on motherhood in sports cultures. In so doing, we foreground the perspectives and core research theme of sport and motherhood that will follow in each of the chapters. The impetus, structure, and goals for the book are also outlined
... A version of thematic analysis (TA) developed by Braun, Clarke, and Weate [28] was adapted and used to analyze the information, as it offers "robust processes for identifying patterns, and interpreting them, in a number of different ways" (p. 192) apart from epistemological stance or theory [29]. This version of TA therefore permitted us to syndicate analytic choices aligned with social constructionism to identify discourses and strategies participants used to negotiate journalists' identities. ...
... This approach contrasts with forms of critical discourse analysis that identify discursive repertoires and nuanced language practices (e.g., use of specific words, rhetorical strategies). The data were analyzed on two levels using a 'semantic focus' (i.e., ideas and experiences of journalists were coded as explicitly stated) and a 'latent focus' (i.e., analysis was developed around coding implicit meanings of semantic meanings), in an inductive/data-driven manner [28,29]. ...
Article
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In an era in which independent journalism is flourishing in social media and appears to be changing the world of journalism, it is important to understand and identify how the culture of online journalism differs from the features of traditional journalism. Building on Bourdieu’s field theory, the current study looked at journalist perceptions of values expressed in their online activities as compared to traditional news values.
... While their experiences have generally been under-represented in the vast sport literature, there is an emerging body of research that has focused on the experiences of athlete mothers. For instance, qualitative research with competitive recreational athlete mothers described the various cultural (e.g., the cultural norm that a "good" mother prioritizes her child over herself), personal (e.g., attempting to balance motherhood, work and sport with a limited amount of time), and social (e.g., childcare, emotional support to engage in sport) barriers that impact sport participation [11]. Similar findings have been noted in research that has documented the in-depth experiences of elite athletes who returned to elite-level sport following childbirth [1,3,[12][13][14][15][16]. In their research with elite distance runners, Appleby and Fisher [14] described how athletes who returned to competition after pregnancy experienced a transformative process in which they negotiated social stereotypes related to motherhood alongside their athletic identities [14]. ...
Article
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Background A growing number of athletes return to elite sport following childbirth. Yet, they face significant barriers to do so safely and successfully. The experiences of elite athletes returning to sport following delivery are necessary to support evidence-informed policy. Objective The purpose of this qualitative description was to describe the experiences of elite athletes as they returned to sport following childbirth, and to identify actionable steps for research, policy and culture-change to support elite athlete mothers. Methods Eighteen elite athletes, primarily from North America, who had returned to sport following childbirth in the last 5 years were interviewed. Data were generated via one-on-one semi-structured interviews that were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed through a process of content analysis. Results The findings of this study are represented by one overarching theme: Need for More Time, and five main themes: (a) Training “New Bodies” Postpartum, (b) Injuries and Safe Return to Sport, (c) Breastfeeding While Training, (d) Critical Supports for Return to Sport, (e) Navigating Motherhood and Sport. The athletes identified the urgent need to develop best-practice policies and funding to support return to sport, as well as develop evidence-based return-to-sport protocols to support a safe and injury-free return. Conclusion Athletes shared detailed stories highlighting the challenges, barriers and successes elite athletes experience returning to elite-level sport following childbirth. Participants provided clear recommendations for policy and research to better support the next generation of elite athlete mothers.
... Furthermore, as different types of master narratives are not mutually exclusive (McLean and Syed, 2015), additional research would be valuable to explore how athletes negotiate and draw on multiple biographical, structural, and episodic master narratives. For example, women athletes may draw on a master biographical narrative related to motherhood, while also drawing on a master narrative of forward momentum in competitive sport; recent research on athletes' experiences of motherhood points to this negotiation of identity (Massey and Whitehead, 2019;McGannon et al., 2018). Future research exploring master and alternative narratives would be valuable, particularly among groups of individuals whose personal experiences do not align with the master narrative. ...
Article
Full-text available
In this article we elaborate on a narrative of forward momentum in sport drawing on multiple interviews (total = 37 interviews) over six months with thirteen current and former competitive athletes (9 women, 4 men) from various sports and different stages of their sport careers. Using Dialogical Narrative Analysis to guide the analysis, the results elaborate on a narrative of forward momentum and the ways it is drawn upon by athletes to make sense of their experiences in sport. A narrative of forward momentum emphasises concerns about continual progress and increasing achievements in performance over time, and athletes’ stories and lives were structured around the continual pursuit of success at the highest possible level in sport before the end of one’s career. Athletes felt ‘swept along’ by the structure of sport, and injuries and illnesses were seen as setbacks that could cause athletes to lose out on their progress and which they would have to ‘catch up’ on. We further elaborate on the concept of a contract within the narrative of forward momentum, wherein athletes invested hard work that would eventually ‘pay off’ and which promoted continual training and improvement in order to make progress and maintain momentum. A narrative of forward momentum is explored as a useful companion story, and as a potentially ‘dangerous’ companion story. We conclude by discussing the implications of a narrative of forward momentum for exploring the ways that athletes make sense of their experiences in sport.
... Four of the five chapters in this section focused on recreational sport to learn more about the nuanced ways in which women's sport participation is impacted, in the context of gendered discourses and sport. Researchers have shown that recreational sport participation enhances women's well-being and serves as a self-care practice, but equally, findings are contradictory, as women experience guilt and/or anxiety related to embodied self-identities (Evans et al., 2017;McGannon et al., 2018;Spowart et al., 2010). Recreational sport work has primarily used interviews with mothers and forms of analysis grounded in social constructionism and/or post-structuralism (e.g., discourse analysis, reflexive thematic analysis, narrative analysis) to explore discourses/narratives in which meanings of identities, motherhood and sport are afforded and/or limited. ...
Chapter
In this chapter, we re-envision research into motherhood and sport, by centralizing suggestions for future research in the qualitative landscape. To accomplish this aim, we provide reflections on existing research and gaps, followed by reflections on the contributions of each of the chapters in the present volume, and how each fills research gaps. We then suggest future research directions based on these reflections. The foregoing is organized under the three sections that housed the 12 chapters: critical approaches to data analysis; mediation, technology, and digital methods; and creative analytical practices. The content in this chapter serves as a modest set of recommendations to spark continued expansion of this contemporary and dynamic topic in the area of women, sport, and culture.
... For women in 'traditionally' gendered roles, the construction of mothers as 'natural' primary carers for children has often served to constrain women's sports and leisure opportunities, roles and identities (Henderson & Gibson, 2013;McGannon et al., 2018). ...
Chapter
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This chapter utilizes sociological phenomenology to investigate intercorporeality, intersubjectivity, and sensoriality in leisure swimming, as experienced by mothers with their pre-school aged children. Data from two research studies highlighted salient elements of such experiences, including a shift in women’s intentionality from the self to their children, and increased focus upon their children’s subtle embodied cues. The ability to ‘read’ such cues was assumed by participants to reside in an innate maternal ‘instinct’, related to the management of perceived risks in the pool and changing-room spaces, including problematic traces of the passage of other bodies. Moreover, the maternal experience was replete with emotion work and the management of young children’s embodied behavior. Mothers were cognizant of the tacit etiquette of the pool, including respect for the integrity of the auditory and somatic space of others. Our insights offer an example of the value of a sociological and feminist phenomenological theoretical framework in understanding mothers’ embodied experiences of leisure-swimming.
... In line with the aforementioned studies, more than two-thirds of the inactive women in the current study were mothers or were in charge of a child. Having the support of partners, family, or friends can help with work-life balance and being able to devote time to LTPA [96,97]. Women in the active group reported higher family and spousal support to participate in LTPA, which indicates that having a support network might help to increase the level of LTPA and maintain it over time. ...
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... Motherhood within a recreational realm has been explored by a number of authors, (Batey and Owton 2014;Consalves 2017, 2018;Nash 2011;Spowart, Burrows, and Shaw 2010;Wann 2006). McGannon, McMahon, and Consalves (2018) describe a juggling metaphor where mothers who engage in recreational sporting environment describe juggling life as a parent and sporting participations, We have balls in the air we are juggling. You're juggling the running ball. ...
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Back to Netball (B2N) is a coach-led programme established by England Netball, to encourage inactive individuals to re-engage. B2N engages a typically hard to reach group, with 52% of participants being mums. This study aims to understand how a physical activity intervention (i.e. B2N) influences mums’ identity. There is a distinct lack of qualitative studies that include mums’ own voices and how they negotiate being physically active alongside the role expectations associated with being a mum. A qualitative approach was utilised to consider and represent participant’s experiences. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 19 women who were engaged with the Back to Netball scheme. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the experience of mothers who take part in B2N. Two key themes were identified (1) mum identity as enabler for relatedness and (2) exercise identity as an additional identity. Following the identification of the two key themes, two non-fiction constructs were created which illustrate each theme in the context of a B2N participant’s life. The narratives explore social categorisation and the development of social identity and exercise identity and how it can influence attitudes, beliefs and levels of engagement in other forms of physical activity. Practically, this paper demonstrates how future physical activity interventions can cater for a traditionally hard to reach group, such as mums. To be able to engage mums and facilitate the development of an exercise identity, relatedness should be a focus of a physical activity programme.
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RESUMEN El cambio de normativa de la Women's Tennis Association (WTA) a principios del 2019 sobre maternidad y el auge de investigaciones en psicología del deporte sobre este tema en el deporte de élite, inspiraron este estudio cuyo objetivo fue explorar si el cambio de normativa modifica la visión de la compaginación de maternidad y carrera deportiva en tenistas profesionales. Participaron 10 mujeres tenistas españolas, en activo y retiradas, algunas madres (n = 3) y otras no (n = 7). Para la recolección de datos se utilizó una entrevista semi-estructurada y a partir de un análisis temático del contenido se definieron tres temas: (a) game, set and match: ¿es suficiente solo con cambiar la normativa? (b) centre court: al servicio mama-tenista versus al resto tenista, y (c) warning coaching: el tenis como deporte de equipo. La interpretación de los resultados nos muestra cómo las modificaciones del reglamento facilitan un primer paso hacia la compatibilización de la maternidad con el tenis de élite, pero aún hacen falta más medidas de acompañamiento como las sugeridas en este estudio: (a) contar con el apoyo del entorno psicosocial de la deportista, (b) disponer de una ayuda económica, (c) disponer de espacios para los hijos en el entorno deportivo, y (d) facilitar elementos básicos para los niños en los torneos. Palabras clave: mujer; deportista de élite; transiciones; investigación cualitativa. ABSTRACT Changes in the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) rulebook at the beginning of 2019 regarding the special ranking for pregnancy or parental start and the uprising in sports psychology investigations regarding this theme in elite sport, inspired this study. The aim was to explore whether the changes in the WTA regulations modifies the vision of the possibility to combine motherhood and professional sports career. Participants were 10 Spanish female elite tennis players, both current and former players, some mothers (n = 3) and others non-mothers (n = 7). For data collection, a semi-structured interview was used and, through thematic content analysis, three themes were defined: (a) game, set and match: is it enough just by changing the rules? (b) centre court: to serve tennis player and mom vs. at the return tennis player and (c) warning coaching: tennis as a team sport. The interpretation of the results show how motherhood and an elite tennis career is possible to combine even though it is still a feat for the mother athlete. Our study suggests strategies that could favour motherhood with an elite tennis career: (a) have the support from the athletes' entourage, (b) having financial support or funding, (c) have some areas or rooms destined for children in tournaments, and (d) provide basic services for children in tournaments.
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En el pasado, prácticamente no se le prestaba atención a todo lo relacionado ni con la ergonomía ni con el rendimiento de las mujeres ciclistas. El interés principal recaía en el ciclismo masculino, buscando mejoras ergonómicas que se tradujeran en un mejor confort y rendimiento. De hecho, no era habitual encontrar bicicletas específicas para mujeres, por lo que debían utilizar y adaptarse a las de los hombres. Esto suponía un gran inconveniente, porque las diferencias morfológicas y fisiológicas entre hombres y mujeres son evidentes y, consecuentemente, se requiere de un material específico y adaptado a cada sexo. Asimismo, la literatura científica sobre ciclismo femenino era y sigue siendo limitada. Sin embargo, el crecimiento experimentado en los últimos años del ciclismo femenino, tanto en el número de practicantes como en el nivel de las mismas, así como la profesionalización de las ciclistas, ha favorecido que cada vez se le preste mayor atención. No obstante, aún queda camino por recorrer, puesto que las diferencias respecto al ciclismo masculino siguen siendo considerables. Este capítulo se divide en dos partes. En primer lugar, se describirán aquellas características anatómicas y fisiológicas más destacables que diferencian a mujeres de hombres y que afectarán de forma clara a la ergonomía. Posteriormente, se focalizará el interés en el alto rendimiento y se describirán las características de rendimiento físico de las ciclistas de mayor nivel.
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In the present study, post-partum embodied subjectivity of five competitive recreational mother runners of children under 6 years of age, was explored using narrative inquiry from a story analyst and a story teller position. This focus expands understanding of sport, embodiment and good mother ideals using narrative inquiry as a novel theory to centralize body-self stories contextualized in cultural narratives. A central theme of ‘reimagining the post-partum self’ was identified from a story analyst position whereby stories are the objects of analysis. We shifted to storytellers to present the nuanced intersecting meanings of this central theme in the form of three accessible creative nonfiction stories presented as composite vignettes. The three vignettes were: listening to, and learning from my post-pregnant body; new mum, new athlete; and running (re)connects me to myself. These findings expand critical insights into the motherhood, sport, and embodiment nexus into the under studied topic of post-partum recreational sport. Such work opens pedagogical possibilities through telling, and witnessing, stories to highlight constraining and emancipative aspects, of women’s physical participation.
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Objectives: To examine how gender functions in the narrative construction of dual career styles, and how these styles impact the (dis)continuation of a dual career pathway. Design: Longitudinal qualitative study. Method: Life story interviews with 18 talented Finnish athletes (10 cis women, 8 cis men) at four points in time – when they averaged 16, 17, 19, and 20 years of age – followed by an integrative narrative-discursive analysis. Results: (a) contrapuntal style was gender-typically female; (b) monophonic style was gender-typically male; and (c) dissonant style was an important pathway to dual career discontinuation through which gender ideologies impacted the emergent adults with differential outcomes. Although all adolescent athletes aspired to construct a dual career pathway into adulthood, less than half (7 of 18) sustained dual career on and after graduation from upper secondary school. The life course and performance master narratives provided gender-specific scripts for life story and identity development. Conclusions: Our findings signpost that dual career discourse practices are organised along the gender binary, which may be fortifying the assumed normalcy of gendered life choices instead of opening up the field of possibilities. To facilitate cultural change in dual career development environments, we urge for the critical examination of socio-cultural constraints on adolescent athletes’ choices. Keywords: youth sport, late adolescence, identity development, gender, life story, narrative
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In June 2017 the Chief Medical Officers of the United Kingdom released guidelines for exercise during pregnancy to be used by those in the healthcare and sport sectors when providing advice to pregnant women. These recommend pregnant women should take part in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. This qualitative study employed a social-ecological framework to investigate the experiences of new mothers based in the UK and the practicalities of engaging in regular exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. An online qualitative questionnaire was completed by 200 UK-based women who had recently given birth. Ten of these participants then took part in a semi-structured interview. Qualitative data from the questionnaires and interviews were thematically analysed and 3 themes were generated as recommendations to the sector. The first theme was the importance of providing ‘trusted advice’ from reputable sources. The second theme was the need for provision of ‘safe, affordable sport and exercise options’. The final theme was the need for more ‘considered postpartum support’ for exercise, through further childcare options and a range of supportive environments for women to exercise within postpartum. The findings suggest that women’s sport participation tends to decrease during and after pregnancy. Women are officially recommended to maintain participation throughout these life-stages, but the current UK sport and leisure environment is not ideally suited to support this. Collectively the UK healthcare and sport sectors should work to provide trusted advice and considered sport and exercise options for pregnant and postpartum women.
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Qualitative research has grown within sport and exercise psychology and is now widely conducted. The purpose of this review is to discuss three commonly used ways to demonstrate rigor when conducting or judging qualitative research in sport and exercise psychology. These are the method of member checking, the method of inter-rater reliability, and the notion of universal criteria. Problems with each method are first highlighted. Member checking and inter-rater reliability are shown to be ineffective for verification, trustworthiness, or reliability purposes. Next, universal criteria within the context of Tracy’s (2010) heavily drawn on paper within sport and exercise psychology is problematized. Throughout the discussion of each method and universal criteria more suitable possibilities for conducting rigorous qualitative research are offered. The paper concludes that to support high quality qualitative research, scholars - including journal editors and reviewers - need to change how rigor is developed and judged, rather than perpetuate the problems with how it has been commonly evaluated in the past. Recommendations for developing rigor when conducting and/or judging qualitative research within sport and exercise psychology are also offered.
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Objectives The dominant role-based conceptualisations of athletic identity have recently been challenged in favour of theoretical perspectives that view identity as a complex cultural construction. In the present study, we analysed empirical studies on athletic identity positioned in narrative and discursive approaches to gain an insight into the use and subsequent contribution of these approaches to knowledge production in this research topic. Design and method: A total of 23 articles, of which 18 narrative studies and five discursive studies, were identified in a systematic literature search. We used the meta-study method to analyse these studies in terms of basic assumptions, methodologies, and findings. Results Early narrative studies focused on biographical disruption in career termination and/or severe injury, whereas more recent studies examined the impact of different identity narratives on athletes' well-being and career decisions. Discursive studies examined the multiple ways in which dominant understandings of gender, age, and the athletic body are (re)produced and normalised within sporting cultures and institutions and can act to constrain athletes to certain identities and practices. Both approaches highlighted that elite sport culture offers limited narrative resources or subject positions for athletes, and can endanger athletes' well-being if they are unable to comply with dominant ideals of being an athlete. Conclusions Narrative and discursive approaches have advanced understandings of the constitutive role of sporting culture in athletic identity formation. Future research should continue exploring athletic identity in various physical cultural contexts and seek to identify alternative narratives and discourses that may enable athletes to construct more adaptive identities.
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This study explores the relationship between self-cognitions and running behavior in a group of female recreational runners. Consistent with theories of self-esteem and exerciser self-schemata, it aims to identify how running can impact on the self, and how self-cognitions can influence motivation and adherence to running. In-depth interviews were conducted with 16 women of varying age, ability, and running experience who had entered a major women’s 10K race. Inductive data analysis revealed that there was a bi-directional relationship between running involvement and self-cognitions. Running provided experiences which led to enhanced self-esteem, notably through perceived improvements to the physical self, but also through increases in mastery/achievement and physical competence. These changes contributed to the value of running for the women, strengthened their exercise self-schema, and increased the likelihood of adherence to running. However, family responsibilities constrained the women in their ability to run, impacting on the exercise-self relationship outlined.
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Maintaining involvement in sport and exercise activities is a challenge for mothers with young children. This study therefore qualitatively explores the experiences of 7 mothers who have managed to remain physically active in team sports exploring how the team environment might meet their psychological needs. We analyze the results through Self-Determination Theory (SDT). Semi structured interviews were thematically analyzed to reveal the following themes: perceived benefits of sport, perceived benefits of being part of a team, needing time out from being a mother, social support and empowerment and self-determination. Feelings of competence, autonomy and relatedness were interwoven to these themes thus demonstrating the applicability of SDT to this domain.
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Increased academic attention on the gendering of leisure pastimes in recent years has highlighted the centrality of the gendered body in influencing how leisure is accessed, experienced and transformed. To date, however, little attention has been paid to how women experience aquatic leisure activity, the second most popular form of leisure activity in the UK, and where female participation predominates. This paper presents results from research investigating the aquatic leisure experiences of 22 women, with children aged under 3, in the North-East of England. A number of key themes emerged from the data, which highlighted the centrality of the gendered, lived body as a key social construct contouring participant perceptions in the swimming pool environment. Women reflected upon their self-perceived physical deficiencies when wearing revealing swimming costumes, particularly under the critical gaze of ‘other’ bodies, whether present or imagined. The co-presence of other bodies was also central in shaping lived experiences, and the presence of ‘dependent’ children’s bodies shifted bodily intentionality away from the self towards perceived maternal responsibilities and the management of perceived risks, including ‘dirt’ and ‘germs’ and the negotiation of the tacit rules of the swimming pool. Results also suggest that the emphasis on maternal responsibility in aquatic leisure activity and timing of parent-toddler sessions could lead to reproduction of gender inequalities and the exclusion of some fathers from participation.
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This article presents data from a project exploring women's experiences of work and care. It focuses primarily on work–life balance as a problematic concept. Social and economic transformations across advanced post-industrial economies have resulted in concerns about how individuals manage their lives across the two spheres of work and family and achieve a work–life balance. Governments across the European Union have introduced various measures to address how families effectively combine care with paid work. Research within this area has tended to focus on work–life balance as an objective concept, which implies a static and fixed state fulfilled by particular criteria and measured quantitatively. Qualitative research on women's experiences reveals work–life balance as a fluctuating and intangible process. This article highlights the subjective and variable nature of work–life balance and questions taken-for-granted assumptions, exploring problems of definition and the differential coping strategies which women employ when negotiating the boundaries between work and family.
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Motherhood and participation in elite sport have traditionally been viewed as at odds with each other. However, mothers competing at the pinnacle of sport are becoming more common. Despite such trends, motherhood often remains invisible and taboo within the sphere of elite sport and little research has addressed athletes who are mothers. In order to explore popular accounts of motherhood and elite sport, we examined 326 media reports of the case of Keli Lane, an Australian water polo player who was convicted of murdering her infant in order to pursue her sporting goals. We draw on a social constructionist and critical approach to discursive analysis in order to explore repeated patterns of constructions of athlete identity and motherhood. We argue that within these media accounts, the identities of ‘elite athlete’ and ‘mother’ were depicted as mutually exclusive. Moreover, the role of the broader context of elite sporting culture and organisations in influencing the combination of motherhood and elite sport participation was rendered invisible within these accounts. The implications for female athletes, especially mothers, are discussed.
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This paper presents data on the parenting practices and perceptions of middle-class parents in the domain of children’s sport. Adopting a grounded-theory approach, the data were generated through 16 semi-structured interviews conducted with parents and children from eight different families. The findings in relation to parenting practices indicated that the parents were ‘investing’ in their children’s sports participation earlier and more heavily than their parents had done with them, thus suggesting an intensification in the middle-class social reproduction process. The findings regarding parenting perceptions revealed that the parents felt they were better able and more inclined to invest in their children in general, and their children’s sports participation in particular, as a consequence of several ‘structural’ and ‘cultural’ changes that have occurred over the past 30 years or so. Given recent research indicating the significance of socialisation in the family for sports participation rates (Birchwood, Roberts, & Pollock, 20083. Birchwood, D., Roberts, K., & Pollock, G. (2008). Explaining differences in sport participation rates among young adults: Evidence from South Caucasus. European Physical Education Review, 14(3), 283–298.[CrossRef], [Web of Science ®]View all references), this additional investment by parents may have profound implications. Indeed, if sports participation rates are strongly dependent upon the transmission of sporting cultures within families, and parents are increasingly enabled and inclined to invest the sporting cultivation of their offspring, it follows that overall sports participation rates will benefit. This may be a more or less significant part of the explanation for the substantial growth in sports participation from the 1970s.
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In this article I explore the production of medical knowledge about exercise during pregnancy in the latter half of the 20th century, illustrating how debates about the safe limits of maternal exercise were rooted in longstanding anxieties surrounding the female reproductive body as well as epistemological questions concerning what counts as knowledge or evidence in the scientific realm. By drawing to the surface the "rules of formation" for the production of knowledge about the pregnant body, I aim to bring to light the contingent nature of this knowledge--never neutral but always bound up in relations of power.
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A strong emphasis on individual choice is considered to represent a particular neoliberal culture, and choice is claimed to substitute feminism. This article argues that the vocabulary of choice should not be seen only as a representation of a double entanglement of neoliberalism and postfeminism, but rather as a site for entanglement, and further explored as a performative concept. The argument is developed though empirical analysis of media texts on women combining career and motherhood. The metaphor of work–life balance is argued to function as a gendering frame as the particular combination of motherhood and career commitment is construed as conflicting dimensions of a feminine subjectivity. Within the gendered work–life balance framing the vocabulary of choice is performative, producing dichotomies and differences by the looks of individual agency. Thus, choice is not merely ‘covering up power structures’: the vocabulary of choice performs structuring power.
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Objectives: Qualitative research on physically active mothers has shown that recreational sport may allow women to resist good mother ideals that often constrain exercise. The purpose of this study was to extend this understanding in a socio-cultural context by examining how recreational athlete mother identities were constructed within one form of new media - blogging. Design: A qualitative approach grounded in discursive psychology was used to theorize athlete mother identities as subject positions constructed within particular discourses circulated within a blog. Method: Critical discourse analysis of 30 stories and 177 reader comments from the North American online running community Another Mother Runner, was conducted. Visual data analysis of 102 images accompanying stories also contextualized the textual meanings of discourses and subject positions. Results: Two primary discourses were identified: discourse of transformation and empowerment and a discourse of disruption and resolution. Subject positions constructed within these two intersecting discourses were role mother/advocate and resilient mother runner. Conclusions: This study extends discursive psychology literature in sport and exercise psychology as well as media work on athlete mother identities within sport psychology into the realm of the internet and identity construction.
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The last decade of research in sport psychology has reflected a growing interest in parental involvement in sport. Researchers have taken child- and coach-centric perspectives to investigate both the antecedents and consequences of parental involvement. What emerges from such research are insights into the positive and negative effects of parental influence through the practices, behaviors, and styles adopted. This article focuses on the role of parenting in competitive sport. The focus was on enhancing the professional knowledge base and understanding related to the needs and experiences of parents supporting their children in a variety of competitive sports and cultures, as well as through specific transitions and critical moments.
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Available at http://authors.elsevier.com/a/1RJGa5E1C4XbX3 Objectives This study explores gendered experiences of the mastery stage in endurance runners’ athletic careers in terms of (a) key themes in this period of life, (b) retirement decision-making and (c) changes in athletic and runner identities. Design and Method Ten male and nine female athletes aged between 25 and 62 participated in individual interviews. The data were analysed via thematic narrative analysis. Results and Conclusion Gendered meanings permeate career decision-making and retirement patterns of Finnish runners. Female athletes reported many difficulties, including health problems, loneliness, societal pressure and lack of social support during the final years of their careers. These aspects were important reasons for them to start considering retirement from sport. Male athletes reported less social pressure and suggested that friendship in sport was a major reason for postponing retirement. Male athletes expressed more interest for coaching others, wherein women perceived themselves as incompetent and/or lacked time and interest for it. Running remained important for the majority of athletes after retirement and they anticipated or had continued regular running post-retirement.
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This research note discusses the effectiveness of using video internet technologies, like Skype, for qualitative interviews. Skype may present some challenges for interviewing, including dropped calls and pauses, inaudible segments, inability to read body language and nonverbal cues, and loss of intimacy compared to traditional in-person interviews. Based on reflections from 45 university student researchers, the following short paper details how to overcome such obstacles and to create a successful research partnership between the researcher and participant. Strategies include confirming a stable internet connection, finding a quiet room without distractions, slowing down and clarifying talk, being open to repeating answers and questions, and paying close attention to facial expressions.
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La combination du travail payé et la maternité est difficile parce que les institutions sociales sont basées sur la supposition que les deux sont toujous mutuellement exclusifs. Les mères qui travaillent gèrent la tension entre le travail et la maternité chaque jour, et quand elles le font, elles établissent des nouveaux modèles sociaux. Cette recherche présente les résultats d'une étude de 21 mères qui travaillent de la classe moyenne et soutient qu'elles ont été incapables de challenger l'organisation punitive du travail et de la maternité. Ces mères utilisent la métaphore de l’“équilibre” pour décrire comment elles gèrent la tension. Cependant, leurs récits des difficultés de gérer la maternité lorsque les méres travaillent décrit une autre histoire. En fait, l’“équilibre” est une idéologie qui fonctionne afin d'obscurcir la contradiction entre le travail et la maternité. Combining paid work and motherhood is difficult because social institutions are still based on the assumption that these are mutually exclusive. Working mothers manage the tension between work and motherhood daily, and as they do, they establish new social patterns. This paper reports on the findings of a study of 21 middle-class working mothers and argues that they have been unable to challenge the punitive organization of work and motherhood. These mothers use the metaphor of “balance” to describe how they manage the tension. However, their narratives of the difficulties of managing working motherhood tell a different story. In fact, “balance” is an ideology, which functions to obscure the contradiction between work and motherhood.
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Although a few studies on the experiences of mothering athletes have been conducted that investigate issues such a training patterns of elite and non-elite athletes, quality of life issues, and track and field athletes’ return to competition after pregnancy (see Beilock, Feltz, & Pivarnik, 2001; Balague, Shaw, Vernacchia, & Yambor, 1995: Pederson, 2001), none of these capture this experience from a critical feminist perspective. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to use a critical feminist framework to qualitatively explore the athletic experiences of elite distance runners who returned to competition after having children. The results of this study indicated that elite female distance runners who returned to a high level of competition after pregnancy experienced a transformative process as they negotiated their new roles as mothers and integrated this new lifestyle with both the social discourse surrounding motherhood and their own objectives to continue running at an elite level. Implications and theoretical connections between this research and future research are also provided.
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Abstract The aim of this qualitative phenomenological study was to describe the experiences of maternity among Spanish elite sportswomen. Twenty (n=20) Spanish elite sportswomen with the following criteria were included: 1) aged between 18 and 65 years; 2) had been pregnant during their sporting professional career, and 3) after the end of their pregnancy had returned to their professional sporting career for at least one year. A qualitative analysis was conducted. Data were collected using in-depth personal interviews, investigator's field notes and extracts from the participants' personal letters. Identified themes included: a) A new identity, with 2 sub-themes: "Mother role", and "Being visible", b) Going back to sport, with 3 subthemes: "Guilt appears", "Justifying going back to sport" and "Rediscovering sport"; and, c) Reaching a goal, with 2 subthemes: "Balancing mother-sportswoman" and "The challenge of maternity". Understanding the meaning of maternity for elite Spanish sportswomen might help gain deeper insight into their expectations and develop training systems focused on elite sports women after pregnancy.
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This article draws on data from a study of the transition to motherhood to contribute to feminist theorizing of embodiment. Three bodily aspects of women's gendered sense of self are identified as undergoing possible change during this period—sensuality, shape, and space. The work of Arthur Frank is drawn on to theorize shifts in women's experience of these dimensions, and the author shows how the white, middle-class women studied could use such discourses around the body as resources in renegotiating their social positioning. This empirical analysis demonstrates how physical changes may facilitate challenging the dominant body norms, although the work of Robert Connell indicates that social control may also be a consequence of such bodily conceptualizations. This article therefore uses its empirical analysis to contribute to theorizing the connections between bodily practices and gendered identity.
Article
The aim of this qualitative study was to comprehend how mothers understood and accounted for their experiences in relation to the ideology of motherhood which has been socially constructed as a critical aspect of femininity. Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with 24 primiparous and multiparous women, and transcripts analysed using open and axial coding with triangulation. Using a material‐discursive approach to interpret the data, two higher order themes are presented: ‘the realization of new motherhood’ and ‘coping with new motherhood’. These themes demonstrate how unprepared for motherhood the women were and how their expectations were based on various myths of motherhood. This led to feelings of inadequacy as they struggled with the myth versus reality discrepancy. However, they could not be seen to be inadequate and therefore employed greater efforts to portray themselves as supermum, superwife, supereverything and hide the opposite. These findings are interpreted within the context of the social construction of femininity and how it is performed within motherhood. Implications for antenatal and postpartum care are discussed.
Article
Objectives: To examine parental influences on youth physical activity (PA). It has been noted in several reviews that the correlates of different types and intensities of PA need to be identified, yet extant reviews have made little distinction between types and intensities of PA. Design: Systematic review of cross-sectional and longitudinal research. Methods: Published English-language papers were identified (n = 96) using electronic databases and manual searches of reference lists. Research reporting a measure of PA for children (6-11 years) and/or adolescents (12-18 years) and at least one potential parental correlate of PA was included. Results: Cross-sectional research demonstrated that parental influence can be important for different types/intensities of PA in young people. In children parents played an important role in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), overall PA and leisure-time PA through direct involvement and being active role models and in organised PA through a combination of methods such as modelling, transport and encouragement. For adolescents however, parental influence was less clear but research suggested that parents' PA level, attitudes towards PA, transport and encouragement were important for them to be physically active. Longitudinal data, although limited in number, demonstrated that overall support predicted children's organised PA over time and fathers' PA predicted adolescents' overall PA. Conclusion: Parents provide a target for interventions to increase youth PA through encouragement to promote the importance of PA to their child either through their own behaviour or supporting their child to be active.
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Within exercise psychology, social cognitive theories have allowed researchers to identify possible influences and mechanisms that account for exercise and physical activity participation. These approaches have advanced the development of interventions to enhance and maintain exercise adherence. Despite this, the adherence problem remains unsolved. This paper introduces an alternative perspective known as discursive psychology. and explores its potential for understanding adherence. How this approach differs from leading approaches is highlighted. Discursive psychology's potential contribution via its focus on discourse and what is accomplished through people's use of words is considered in detail. How discursive psychology contributes to understanding exercise adherence by opening up new avenues of research and associated methodologies is also discussed. It is concluded this approach will complement and enhance existing approaches by focusing on how people are situated within discourses and how this affords and limits how they speak, feel, and behave with respect to exercise.
Article
Objectives The determinants of physical activity participation for mothers of young children are only beginning to be understood. The aim with this study was to further this understanding by exploring motherhood as a socially and culturally constructed identity linked to physical activity participation. Design Discursive psychology was used to theorize mother identities as subject positions constructed within discourse(s), and explore the implications for one woman's physical activity participation, through an in-depth case study approach (see Yin, 2009). Method A newly active 35 year old woman with two young children, husband and activity partner, were interviewed over 16 weeks. Critical discourse analysis (see Wetherell, 1998) of nine interviews was used to explore the constructive nature of language and the effects by identifying the discourses within which mother identities were constructed. Results Two primary discourses were identified: a patriarchal discourse of the family and a liberal feminist discourse. Participants drew upon these discourses to position the woman's identity as a good mother and/or super mother. Based on the behavioural practices linked to discourses and the subject positions/identities (e.g., good mothers place children's needs over their own), a situation came into being which made physical activity participation difficult. Conclusions This study contributes towards understanding motherhood and physical activity participation by attending to social and cultural discourses. By constructing mother identities within a patriarchal discourse of the family and a liberal feminist discourse, physical activity barriers of time, fatigue and the family functioned in nuanced ways, and were not easily surmounted.
Article
Despite its potential to illuminate psychological processes within socio-cultural contexts, examples of narrative research are rare in sport psychology. In this study, we employed an analysis of narrative to explore two women's stories of living in, and withdrawing from, professional tournament golf gathered through life history interviews conducted over 6 years. Our findings suggest that immersion in elite sport culture shaped these women's identities around performance values of single-minded dedication to sport and prioritization of winning above all other areas of life. When the performance narrative ceased to “fit” their changing lives, both women, having no alternative narrative to guide their personal life stories, experienced narrative wreckage and considerable personal trauma. They required asylum—a place of refuge where performance values were no longer paramount—to story their lives around a relational narrative that reinstated a coherent identity while providing meaning and worth to life after golf.
Article
The purpose of this research was to explore the experiences of mothers who snowboard. Snowboarding was selected because the discourses surrounding the sport typically embody freedom, hedonism, and irresponsibility (Humphreys, 1996). These characteristics are at odds with traditional notions of motherhood (Miller & Brown, 2005). A feminist post‐structural approach was adopted, utilising Foucault's concepts of power, knowledge, truth, and resistance to investigate how the mothers shaped their identities and social relations. Five snowboarders were interviewed. It is argued that these snowboarding mothers resisted the social expectations created by the ‘ideology of motherhood’ by redefining what it means to be a ‘good mother’ and by creating practices to achieve their own happiness. Support from partners and other family members was integral to this.
Article
In this paper we draw on in-depth interviews with six women to examine the construction of surfing mums' subjectivities. We are interested in what discourses surfing mums draw on to constitute their subjectivities; in the conditions that make possible the constitution of surfing mums; in how the women negotiate the oft-contradictory dictates of motherhood and surfer; and in the different modes by which women render themselves as viable subjects. Furthermore, we examine the extent to which the dispositions and practices of surfing mums can be regarded as technologies of the self, affording disruptive potentialities or spaces of freedom. We suggest that contemporary individualist, healthist and familial discourses afford a range of subject positions, yielding opportunities for surfing mums to occupy shifting positions of power and resistance, some of which potentially transform and re-work traditional constructs of motherhood. Furthermore, we argue that practices of self stylization, and a critical and reflexive attitude towards their own practices and positioning as ‘mothers’ and ‘surfers’, can be discerned in the stories of the women.
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This article explores informants' negotiations around the performance of pregnancy “fitness” and “good” mothering through exercise. Although exercise has been discussed as a way to “empower” middle-class women, I suggest that this position is problematic in its co-optation of the language of “feminism” and also in its lived experience. For my pregnant informants, “liberation” through exercise was clearly contradictory. In this article, I argue that pregnant women are encouraged to embody a “fit” pregnancy. Findings suggest that there is no time in a woman's life when she is “free” to be inactive; she must constantly engage in a high-level of physical activity to maintain an appropriately feminine body and to prove her “self” “publicly” as capable.
Article
Mothers' voices are often silent in the sports literature, especially as elite athletes. This research used a symbolic interactionist approach and semi-structured interviews to explore the experiences of nine elite female athletes in New Zealand who were also mothers at the time of competing. The specific objectives were to explore how motherhood impacted on the identity of elite athletes, how they negotiated their multiple identities and roles, and how support systems were utilized to encourage and retain elite athletes as mothers. The women managed their multiple identities and negotiated constraints such as guilt, lack of time and limited organizational support by emphasizing how integral sport was to their sense of self. They highlighted the mutual benefits of motherhood to their sport aspirations and vice versa, by utilizing time/space management strategies, and by creating and accessing strong support networks which sometimes included organizational support. There was a move towards the integration of multiple identities and a focus on how women's choices in leisure and sport were realized for future research and theory development. Sport management practices and policies that create opportunities for mothers to achieve and maintain elite athlete status are also mentioned.
Article
Women are significantly less likely than men to participate in physically active leisure. Women with children are less likely to participate in active leisure compared with women who do not have children. Social pressure to fulfil the role of being a good mother has been suggested in discussions regarding constraints to physical activity as has the use of leisure engagement as a means of challenging social expectations and structured gender relations. This study explored determinants of active leisure participation through in-depth interviews with 12 heterosexual mothers of young children who were purposively sampled with contrasting levels of partner support, physical activity, and socioeconomic status. The findings suggested that household norms relating to gender-based time negotiation and ideologies regarding an ethic of care were important determinants of active leisure among women with young children. A better understanding of these issues could be important in the development of strategies for promoting greater participation in physical activity among women.
Article
Mothers of young children are a population sub-group with one of the lowest levels of physical activity. This paper presents the findings from a qualitative study with 40 Australian mothers of children under school age. The research aimed to understand the tensions, dilemmas and trade-offs which women experience around physical activity within the contexts of their everyday lives as mothers of young children. The analysis shows that, in contrast to health promotion messages which frame physical activity as a positive and healthy behaviour, mothers of young children perceive activity as being both enhancing and threatening to their health and social relationships. Restrictive stereotypes of the 'good' mother make it difficult for many women to prioritise their own physical activity needs over their childrearing and domestic responsibilities. Nevertheless, women's involvement in physical activity is often underpinned by the maternal 'ethic of care' as something which can help them cope better with the challenges of being a mother and contribute to the wellbeing of the family. This article takes as its departure point the notion that the maternal 'ethic of care' creates previously unrecognised opportunities in relation to physical activity. For many mothers, physical activity can also be a way of challenging hegemonic discourses and extending what it means to be a good mother in contemporary society. Although largely overlooked by contemporary health promotion, it is women's family-oriented politicism and resistance to dominant meanings about motherhood, health and the 'ideal' body which create alternative possibilities for their participation and enjoyment of physical activity during early motherhood.
Exploring media representations of elite athletes, pregnancy and motherhood through cultural sport psychology
  • Radcliffe Constructing Paula
Constructing Paula Radcliffe: Exploring media representations of elite athletes, pregnancy and motherhood through cultural sport psychology. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 13, 820-829. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2012.06.005.