Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Kinesiology and Sport Studies

Major Professor

Robin Hardin

Committee Members

Erin Whiteside, Steven Waller, Rebecca Zakrajsek


The purpose of the study was to discover the lived-experiences of position specialists in a team sport environment. Participants were intercollegiate male and female specialists (pitchers, kickers, punters, and goalies; N = 21) who were enrolled and participating in Division I, II, and III college sport (softball, baseball, football, women’s soccer, men’s soccer, women’s lacrosse, men’s hockey, and women’s hockey) at institutions throughout the South, Midwest, and Northeast. Interviews were conducted in person and via the phone with participants.

Interview transcripts were transcribed and then analyzed using grounded theory approach of collapsing codes down into categories or themes (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Lindloff & Taylor, 2011. Analysis of interviews rendered unique findings to position specialists such as highly individualized practices, elevated pressure and an unforgiving role, a high mental approach despite adversity, and a lack of role understanding. The findings also revealed the importance of positive team culture, family support, and the foundation that sport provided in the athletes’ lives. These findings could expand the definition of specialization to include position specialist and provide implications for team and organizational culture, as well as provide a platform and need for sport psychology consultants.

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