Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure


Faculty of Business and Law

First Supervisor

Associate Professor Kandy James

Second Supervisor

Dr Sue Colyer


Everyone experiences leisure differently but, for people who excel in a chosen field, a hobby can become a serious goal-oriented leisure pursuit. Many talented people, however, fail to reach their leisure goals due to constraints. This study explored individual life experiences of serious leisure participants. It focused on the lived experiences of individual event [horse] riders and opera singers who successfully negotiated their constraints, enabling them to reach their high performance goals.

The purpose of this study was to explore positive personal strategies that individuals used to negotiate constraints in serious leisure. This was done by exploring intrapersonal, interpersonal and structural leisure constraints using an individual’s life experiences. During the process of this study, elitism in the leisure pursuits of event riding and opera singing, and the perceptions about individuals who participate in these activities, were also explored.

A multidisciplinary approach was used in this study using a two stage mixed research methodology. The first stage explored the lived experiences of two individuals through a series of in-depth case study interviews, followed by interviews with their parents and coaches. Focus groups followed to establish if a wider group of participants within the same leisure pursuits experienced similar findings. The second stage of the study used a quantitative method, which consisted of a broader national survey. The survey data validated the qualitative findings and strengthened study outcomes.

The findings of this study related to the opportunity-seeking skills an individual develops throughout their leisure life. These opportunity-seeking skills were linked to the likes, needs and wants an individual must have to reach a high performance level. It also found four principal ‘C Factors’ important to individual decision-making processes: conditioning, change, choice and control. Research findings revealed that early support and encouragement, however small, conditioned and motivated individuals to start and continue in a particular leisure activity. It also showed that those who had the ability to improve their talent, who personally believed in themselves, who viewed difficulties or complicated situations positively, and sought opportunities to enhance their leisure goals and change constraint outcomes, continued to succeed. Individuals had to make choices to enable them to control their goal achievement and deal with constraints throughout their leisure life. High performance success was found to be related to superior opportunity-seeking skills. Constraints arising from perceptions of elitism within serious leisure pursuits were found to be based on an individual’s life experiences and societal opinions, and not on the actual activity itself.

In this study the strength of an individual’s motivation and self-belief, had a direct influence on their perceptions of constraints, and how they personally used opportunity-seeking to negotiate these constraints. Although the ability to predict which athletes or artists will become national or world class is limited, the conceptual framework developed in this study based on successful constraint negotiation strategies, could aid individuals wishing to reach a high performance level, and guide their parents and coaches to provide optimal support.

LCSH Subject Headings

Edith Cowan University. Faculty of Business and Law -- Dissertations

Leisure -- Psychological aspects

Women singers -- Australia -- Recreation -- Psychological aspects

Edith Cowan University. Faculty of Business and Law -- Dissertations


Show riders -- Australia -- Recreation -- Psychological aspects



Paper Location