Background/Purpose Coaches and athletic administrators have always looked for ways to improve the performance of their athletes. The issue of commitment has often been cited as a contributing factor to athletes' ability to achieve peak performance. Commitment has been an elusive concept to study because of the lack of research on the factors that influence it as well as the lack of consensus on what commitment looks like and means. This study sought to establish a common understanding of commitment among athletes and coaches. Interview and observation instruments were designed, piloted and utilized to gather data on the relationship between perceived commitment and performance among female high school and college volleyball and basketball players. In addition, this study examined the effects of socialization and role conflict on the commitment of female athletes.
Method This study employed qualitative research methodology. The primary source of data was collected from in-depth interviews. Supporting sources of data included systematic observation of games and document analysis.
Analysis/Results The data were organized around the following emergent themes: 1. Commitment, 2. Influences effecting commitment, and 3. Effects of socialization and gender role conflict on commitment. A total of nine high school and collegiate female athletes were interviewed. The data were triangulated.
Conclusions Though all participants reported high levels of commitment to their sport, the data indicated that their commitment varied due to influential factors. In addition, gender role conflict and socialization influenced perceived identity as a female athlete that in turn influenced long term commitment to their sport.