The STARTING 11 Dictionary gives the meanings of the most essential terms used in the European Dual Career Toolkit.



Athlete student

An athlete student is an athlete recognized by a sport-governing body, or another accredited body, as competing at (minimum) national level whilst being enrolled in an academic programme or another type of postsecondary training. In comparison to a “student athlete”, the athlete student spends more time dedicated to their sport than to their academics, since they are obligated to a large amount of practice, competitions and surrounding activities related to the athletic career.


Competences are the observable abilities, skills, knowledge, motivations, and traits, articulated in terms of the behaviours needed for self-organised, flexible and, consequently, successful life design or job performance.


Counselling is a professional dialogue between a qualified service provider trained in the fields of psychology, psychotherapy or counselling, and a person. In the present scenario, this service rests upon applied attitudes and techniques put into the specific context of a dual career’s phases and transitions. Its main mission is to promote the adaptability and decision-making ability of the athlete. In the course of counselling, the athlete is inspired to reflect their individual needs, interests, skills and resources to subsequently relate this (new) self-understanding to the own dual career situation. Particularly, counselling aims to assist the athlete to carefully choose, periodically plan and gradually realize academic measures next to a competitive sporting career to foster personal development processes. An assisting supervision/intervision is advised to be an integral part of a professional counselling service.

Dual career

Dual Career is the alliance of high-performance sport with education or work to allow an athlete to realize their full potential in life.

Dual career athlete

A dual career athlete is an athlete recognized by a sport-governing body, or another accredited body, as competing at (minimum) national level whilst being listed as a pupil, student or employee.

Dual career development environment

Dual Career Development Environments are systems, institutions or programmes that help athletes negotiate the demands of an athletic career and manage the transitions they encounter, by providing appropriate cultures, social support, and facilities to aid athletes as they develop. According to the Erasmus+ Sport project Ecology of Dual Careers (2019), there are 8 types of Dual Career Development Environments that support dual career service provision found across Europe: sport-friendly schools, elite sport schools/colleges, professional and/or private club programmes, sport-friendly universities, combined dual career systems, national sport programmes, defense forces programmes, and players union programmes.

Dual career service provider

A dual career service provider is an assigned professional who provides support to a talented, elite or retiring athlete with the purpose of optimising their dual career. This professional is typically related to, or certified by, one of the following: an education institute, a sport organisation, a dedicated dual career organisation.

Formal learning

Formal learning refers to the education and training system of a country. It is official, structured and organized by public organisations or recognized private institutions. Formal learning results in formal certification and formal level of qualification recognized by relevant national educational authorities. Formal education is usually organized as full-time education and organized as a continuous process with defined stages. It encompasses primary, (lower and upper) secondary education, higher/university education as well as adult education programmes.

High-performance sport

High-performance sport refers to a (minimum) national competition level recognized by a sport-governing body, or another accredited body. This definition encompasses both talented athletes (performing on high level in their respective age group) and senior level athletes.

Informal learning

Informal learning is developed whether or not there is a deliberate choice and realized in the performance, by any person, of activities in everyday situations and interactions that take place in them, within the context of work, family, leisure, sport or, specifically, a dual career. It is executed without external support and not institutionalized. In the educational process, therefore, “soft dimensions” come into play such as teaching styles and management of interactions that enable especially those who do not have access to the resources that allow them to be active and able participants, to make use of knowledge to achieve their personal ambitions. Furthermore, this also attenuates or reinforces motivations, expectations, intentions, self-representations and practices of inclusion and exclusion, discrimination and social hierarchisation.

Mental health

Mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. It reflects high levels of social, psychological, and emotional well-being and functioning, as well as the absence of mental ill-health or mental disorders. Mental health is recognized as a core component of an elite sport culture of excellence (Henriksen et al., 2019; Stambulova, Ryba, & Henriksen, 2020) and a basis for effective athlete practice and competition performances (Schinke, Stambulova, Si, & Moore, 2017). Furthermore, mental health is recognized as an important resource for successful career development, whereas mental ill-health forms a barrier for coping with career transitions and often becomes a reason for a crisis-transition followed by premature athletic dropout (Schinke et al., 2017; Stambulova, 2017).

Non-formal learning

Non-formal learning is characterized by a deliberate choice of the person which takes place outside of formal learning systems; in any organisation pursuing educational and training purposes, even volunteering, the national civil service, private social service and in enterprises. Thus, such education is any type of structured and organized learning which is institutionalised, intentional and planned by an educational provider, but which does not lead to formal level of qualification recognized by the relevant national education authorities. People of all age groups can participate in non-formal education which can be offered through courses, workshops, seminars.

Sectoral stakeholder

A sectoral stakeholder is an individual or organisation that either bears responsibility for, or has an interest in, the implementation of some part of the dual career support services to athletes. In the context of dual career, these stakeholders would mainly represent, and operate within, one of more of the following sectors: sport, education and labour market.

Social support

Social support is an exchange of resources between at least two individuals perceived by the provider or recipient to be intended to enhance the wellbeing of the recipient (here: the athlete).


A stakeholder can be defined as a person (or an organisation) with an interest or concern in your entity with regards to the dual careers of athletes. This means that anyone who has an influence or is affected by your activities is a stakeholder and should be considered.


A transition is an event or a non-event which results in changed relationships, routines, assumptions, and roles. Transitions come in many forms and can be normative (expected), non-normative (unexpected) or a non-event (an expected transition that does not take place). A transition is something that typically takes place over a length of time but may not have a defined start and end period. An event may be classed as a “critical moment” instead of a transition when it has an impact on a person’s sense of “Self” but does not typically lead to a lengthy process of change or adaptation.


Values are principles, that describe what a person wants to stand for in life, what they care about and what is truly important to them. For example, it might be important to someone to move towards values of courage, determination, and enjoyment in sport; or, perhaps show curiosity, discipline, and progress in studies. Values serve as a compass that guides our lives and helps us to stay on track. Values are ongoing, meaning that they constantly guide a person’s behavior and actions and that they can never be completed. This distinguishes values from goals which are outcomes that can be “ticked off”. Values are stable; people behave according to the same values over an extended period of time. If effort and learning are important in today’s training session or class, these values are likely to be important tomorrow, or next week or month. Certain life events and situations can alter one’s values, but usually they stay the same after they have solidified themselves at a certain point of life.