Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) is a qualitative research methodology used to understand participants’ subjective realities through personal interpretations of their lived experiences and the meanings they attach to these experiences (Smith, 2011). IPA has been used predominantly in health psychology, with rising interest within the field of sport psychology and coaching. This article seeks to describe insights about the processes of IPA by a research team using the methodological approach for the first time. These experiences are shared against the backdrop of research exploring the lived experiences of Masters athletes within the context of coached competitive swim programs. We describe how the multiple facets of IPA influence the refinement of the research question, the planning and implementation of data collection, and data analysis and interpretation. We elaborate on our perceptions of the complexities of IPA and make recommendations for how future research teams might smoothly navigate the rigorous research process to yield rich in-depth data and interpretations.


IPA, Qualitative Research Methodology, Sport Coaching, Data Collection, Individual Level Analysis, Group Level Analysis

Author Bio(s)

Bettina Callary, Assistant professor, Department of Community Studies, Sport and Human Kinetics, Cape Breton University. Correspondence regarding this can be addressed directly to: Bettina Callary, Department of Community Studies, Sport and Human Kinetics, Cape Breton University, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada B1P 6L2. Email: bettina_callary@cbu.ca

Scott Rathwell, PhD candidate, School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa.

Bradley W. Young, Associate professor, School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa.

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