Athlete perceptions of playing-up in youth soccer

Goldman, Daniel E. and Turnnidge, Jennifer and Kelly, Adam L. and deVos, Jason and Côté, Jean (2021) Athlete perceptions of playing-up in youth soccer. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology. ISSN 1533-1571

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A common practice in sport is to play-up youth athletes who are highly skilled against chronologically older peers. However, the potential effects of playing-up on youth’s athletic and personal development have not been explored. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate athletes’ perceptions of how playing-up may have influenced their sport-specific skill and psychosocial development. Seventeen athletes from four soccer clubs in Ontario, Canada, participated in semi-structured interviews where they described their playing-up experiences. An inductive thematic analysis was performed to capture athletes’ perceptions of playing-up and the ways in which it may have affected their development. Results showed that athletes perceived playing-up to involve a balance between two high-order themes: (a) challenge and (b) progress. Regarding challenge, athletes struggled most to cope with the intensity of practices and games and to fit in socially with older peers. Regarding progress, athletes felt most rewarded when they received recognition for their talent, experienced success, and had opportunities to develop expertise. Athletes also commented that their teammates and coaches played a pivotal role in facilitating their sport-specific skill and psychosocial development. Practical applications for sport practitioners are proposed and avenues for further research are identified.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number:
10 January 2021Accepted
19 January 2021Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: youth sport, soccer coaching, accelerated learning
Subjects: CAH03 - biological and sport sciences > CAH03-02 - sport and exercise sciences > CAH03-02-01 - sport and exercise sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > Centre for Life and Sport Sciences (C-LASS)
Depositing User: Adam Kelly
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2021 10:18
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2022 03:00

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