The "performance narrative" in junior tennis


  • Callum Gowling Liquid Sport Psychology



interpretative phenomenological analysis, performance narrative, positive youth development


Narrative theory states that through creating personal stories people can make sense of their lives and create an identity. The “performance narrative” is a story of single-minded dedication to sport performance, where, winning, results, achievements are pre-eminent and link closely to the athlete’s mental well-being. The “performance narrative” has received attention in professional sports settings, but research has yet to investigate the possible effects on junior tennis players. The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of 4 UK, elite junior tennis players and describe what it is like to perform in the elite junior context. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of 4 elite junior tennis players describes their insights into elite junior tennis. This study found that (a) participants prioritise results at an early age (b) the “performance narrative” influenced participants attitudes to learning (c) the “performance narrative” reduced participants enjoyment of competition. The findings of this research contribute to an evolving, problematic epistemology of sports coaching and confirms that the performance narrative permeates junior tennis culture, interferes with attitude to learning, and reduces enjoyment of competition. The findings present governing bodies opportunities to inform player, parent, and coach education so the performance narrative does not negatively influence junior tennis players.


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How to Cite

Gowling, C. (2022). The "performance narrative" in junior tennis. ITF Coaching & Sport Science Review, 30(88), 25–28.