Talking a Good Game: Identifying the Discrepancies of Football Coaches’ Beliefs and Actions in Player Selection

Kite, Richard James and Ashford, Michael and Noon, Mark and Morris, Rhys and Clarke, Neil (2024) Talking a Good Game: Identifying the Discrepancies of Football Coaches’ Beliefs and Actions in Player Selection. Journal of Expertise, 7 (1). pp. 352-368. ISSN 2573-2773

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Coach intuition plays a critical role in the selection of academy players. A coach’s beliefs about a player's current abilities and perceived potential are critical in deciding a player’s future. Therefore, this study attempted to gain insight towards each coach’s experience and beliefs in selecting players, before undertaking a hypothetical selection activity to understand whether coaches act on such knowledge. Twenty-four coaches recruited from 21 unique professional football (soccer) academies (nine Category 1, eight Category 2, and seven Category 3) took part in semi-structured interviews. The findings established that coach beliefs and actions differed, whereby coaches stated a wide range of holistic beliefs towards selection, yet the hypothetical scenario outlined a far narrower selection criteria applied in action. While several beliefs were reinforced, it was also clear that biases were also presented. Maturation-related bias, favoring the more mature players, explained a potential focus on specific physical qualities (speed) and the perceived potential of players. Additionally, a focus on current performance, over wider elements related to perceived future potential, was evident during the selection scenario. Moreover, while subjective input will remain a key contributor to the player selection process, objective assessments and the input of wider multidisciplinary staff should be utilized to help mitigate the above-mentioned issues.

Item Type: Article
17 February 2024Accepted
1 March 2024Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: maturation, subjective assessment, soccer, espoused theory, player selection
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 > College of Life Sciences
Depositing User: Gemma Tonks
Date Deposited: 24 May 2024 11:25
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2024 13:01

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