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Need help summary this article? Relational developmental systems metatheory: a conceptual framework to understand and promote older adults involved in a sport.

Sport is viewed as a vehicle to develop or augment adaptive developmental processes, resources, and

experiences across the lifespan. However, research has acknowledged that sports participation is associated with costs

as well as benefits in older adulthood. To fully understand the influence of sports participation on psychosocial and

developmental outcomes in older people, insight into the dynamic and complex relationship between the individual

and his/her environment is needed. This review proposes Relational Developmental Systems (RDS) metatheory as a

conceptual framework to understand the outcomes of sports participation later in life. Knowledge of the mechanisms,

processes, and bi-directional exchanges related to individual and contextual relations emphasized in RDS frameworks

may help researchers gain an understanding of the means by which sports participation shapes developmental outcomes

evident within and among older athletes. Key assumptions of the metatheory are introduced and discussed in relation to

the sports setting. Specific examples from the literature on older athletes are presented to illustrate the relationship between

individual and contextual factors on developmental outcomes. Finally, considerations for future research on the topic are

proposed using an RDS lens to move the field forward.

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