Narratives of athletic identity after acquiring a permanent physical disability

Marie Josee Perrier, Shaelyn M Strachan, Brett Smith, Amy E Latimer-Cheung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Individuals with acquired physical disabilities report lower levels of athletic identity. The objective of this study was to further explore why athletic identity may be lost or (re)developed after acquiring a physical disability. Seven women and four men (range = 28–60 years) participated in approximately 1-hour-long semi-structured interviews; data were subjected to a narrative analysis. The structural analysis revealed three narrative types. The nonathlete narrative described physical changes in the body as reasons for diminished athletic identity. The athlete as a future self primarily focused on present sport behavior and performance goals such that behavior changes diminished athletic identity. The present self as athlete narrative type focused on the aspects of their present sport involvement, such as feedback from other athletes and skill development, which supported their athletic identity. Implications of these narrative types with respect to sport promotion among people with acquired physical disabilities are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-124
Number of pages19
JournalAdapted physical activity quarterly : APAQ
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • acquired physical disabilities
  • sport and exercise psychology
  • narrative analysis
  • athletic identity


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