Vocation: a concept for studying meaningful lives and careers in sport

Noora J. Ronkainen *, Olli M. Tikkanen ** and Mark S. Nesti *

(*) School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, UK
(**) Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Exercise, Health and Technology Center, Shanghai, China

In the present paper, we explore the notions of vocation and calling and their implications for sport psychology research and practice. We first discuss conceptual issues and outline existential psychology as one potential framework for understanding vocation in sport. Through a review of growing body of literature on vocation and calling in vocational psychology and reflections on applied sport psychology practice, we identify a number of ways these concepts can be used to advance our understandings of athletic career development, motivation, and mental health in sport. Vocation can also help applied practitioners understand athletes’ strive for authenticity and commitment to sport. In summary, we propose that the concept of vocation can be useful for studying meaningful lives and careers in sport.

Keywords: Athletic career, Existentialism, Identity, Meaning, Motivation