n South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation - Exploratory study of essential life skills for adolescent elite athletes in South Africa

Volume 41 Number 1
  • ISSN : 0379-9069


In their pursuit of athletic excellence, many athletes neglect to plan for life after sport. The aim of this study was to explore and identify life skills appropriate for inclusion in the development of a life skills programme focusing on South African elite adolescent athletes. The study employed an exploratory qualitative approach. Nine elite adolescent South African athletes on the MacSteel Maestros Programme (MMP) were purposefully selected to take part. Data were analysed, applying the principles of inductive reasoning to generate themes. These themes were then linked with the concepts of the Positive Youth Development (PYD) theory that guided the interpretation of the data. The findings from the study contribute to the current literature in two ways. First, they offered a South African perspective on the life skills needed by elite adolescent athletes. Secondly, they identified the life skills that the South African adolescent elite athletes themselves deemed important for their holistic development. The development of skills relating to time management and self-esteem/self-confidence were identified as crucial. The athletes benefitted from being on the MMP, exhibiting qualities of competence, confidence, character, connection and caring/compassion, both in and out of sport.

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