Carolina Lundqvist *, Malin Träff ** and Abbe Brady ***
(*) Department of Behavioral Sciences and Learning, Linköping University, Linköping
(**) The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, Stockholm
(***) St Mary´s University, Twickenham, London
Lundqvist, C., Träff, M., Brady, A. (2021). “Not everyone gets the opportunity to experience this”: Swedish elite athletes’ perceptions of quality of life. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 52(5), 412-431. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2021.52.412
This study explored the essence of Swedish elite athletes’ experiences of their quality of life (QOL). Eight individual elite sports athletes (3 men and 5 women; mean age 25.5 years, range: 20-32 years) were interviewed twice. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis, findings showed the essence of QOL to consist of four categories. Category 1: An inner striving to move forward in athletic development. Category 2: Perceived gratitude for the opportunity to invest in the sport and value-driven behaviors. Category 3: Good prerequisites for sport investment (satisfaction with opportunities for goal achievement, having a goal directed plan, and perceived relief from stressors). Category 4: Emotional states which encompassed durable and transient emotions linked to training, performing and goal achievement. Discussion is presented regarding the importance of future research and applied sport psychology practice considering elite athletes’ holistic subjective experiences in context to better understand well-being, mental health and QOL for this population.
Keywords: Elite athlete, Mental health, Mental illness, Positive psychology, Well-being.