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Why talented athletes drop out from sport? The Portuguese and Czech case

Teresa Silva Dias (CIIE, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal)
Katerina Novotná (Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic)
Helder Zimmermann Oliveira (CIFI2D, Faculty of Sports, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal)
Carlos Azevedo (CIFI2D, Faculty of Sports, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal)
Nuno Corte-Real (CIFI2D, Faculty of Sports, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal)
Pavel Slepička (Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic)
António Manuel Fonseca (CIFI2D, Faculty of Sport, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 13 April 2018

Issue publication date: 23 May 2018




The purpose of this paper is to perceive the perspective of Portuguese and Czech’ talented athletes regarding: the main reasons pointed to drop out of sport, putting into analysis motivational factors; the conciliation of School and Sport, and how the organization of schools and sports contexts are articulated in relation to the training and promotion of students, athletes and citizens; and the contributions (positive/negative) of sports to daily life and society.


This study uses a qualitative approach to interview eight talented athletes from different sports that had to drop out the practice of sport and explores their narratives regarding experiences and the relational dynamics between sports contexts and schools.


Athletes identify factors that led to drop out: the coach profile or the methodology and dynamics of practicing/training; time consuming; and the impossibility of reconciling sports with school/job. Athletes can identify the sport’s culture, self-development and health being as positive contributions of sports, whereas injuries were referred as the main negative factor of sport. As proposal of changes, athletes referred to the need of a more professional organization of the sport contexts and to more proximity between school policies and sport policies allowing conciliating both.

Research limitations/implications

One limitation that could be pointed to this research is the difference between the Czech and Portuguese socio-cultural and political situation, not only in the concept and organization of sports activities (since scholar years) but also in the general society. This difference could have more visibility when interpreting the data that led to this fact referred above.

Practical implications

It is recommended a more proximity relationship between researchers and the contexts of practice (sport contexts) being that it is important that these contexts should have feedback from the investigations carried out. Only in this way coaches, federations and confederations can be aware of the motivational factors that lead to talented athletes drop out, and make a greater investment in initial formation of the coaches and propose policies that try to establish partnerships with schools or professional contexts which could help the management of athletes’ times outside of sport.


Departing from the athletes’ feelings, concerns and motivations related to sport and the reasons that led to their drop out, we argue for the definition of public policies, in both countries, that promote non-discrimination of young people who wish to maintain a path linked to sports in articulation with other areas of their lives.



Silva Dias, T., Novotná, K., Oliveira, H.Z., Azevedo, C., Corte-Real, N., Slepička, P. and Fonseca, A.M. (2018), "Why talented athletes drop out from sport? The Portuguese and Czech case", Education + Training, Vol. 60 No. 5, pp. 473-489.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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