Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Yale University-Sports, Squash (Game)-Psychological aspects, College athletes-Psychology, College athletes-Family relationships, Group games-Psychological aspects, Parent and child, Developmental psychology and motivation, College athletes, Squash, Development, Competence, Mastery, Parenting, Overparenting, Motivation, Askesis, Team participation


This is a study of the experience of elite level college squash players from three angles: development, social context and motivation. Primary aims included describing an intense human experience in terms of developmental gains, identifying social cues the participants received from their social context, understanding motivations for participation, and exploring cultural differences most pertinent to squash participation. The sample was comprised of 15 American and international players from the Yale University men's and women's squash teams who completed semi-structured interviews. The players represented all academic classes and 7 countries. Findings revealed a number of important developmental gains that were fostered by intense squash participation, most particularly in areas of mastery, competence and increased agency. Parents were of paramount importance as influential socializing agents in shaping their children's experiences. Ways in which parental involvement helped and hindered developmental gains derived from squash participation were also identified. In addition, the overwhelming importance of team participation was explored. The findings call into question a clear distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for athletes at this level and explore the complex set of motivations that so intense a level of commitment and achievement entails. Finally, findings revealed important differences in American and international squash playing experiences in terms of parental support, parental control and autonomy. Although there is need for further research in these areas, it is hoped that this study will be useful for anyone engaged in an intense activity for developmental gains.




iii, 109 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 96-102)