Research suggests that leisure provides a vehicle for women to develop friendships in later life, yet little research has explored older women’s experiences of social connection in a team sport setting. This study explored the experiences of social support and friendship among older women who played softball. Focus groups were conducted with women on six softball teams associated with the North Carolina Senior Games. Focus groups were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed thematically. Three inter-related themes emerged from the data analysis: (1) friendship and social connections played a large role in players’ motivations to join the team and continue playing; (2) their approach to playing softball facilitated social connections with others both on and off the team; and (3) through playing softball, participants developed a social network that was invaluable in coping with life stress. The findings are discussed as they relate to socio-emotional selectivity theory.
- older adults
- social support
- team sport
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science
- Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management