1Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Sociology and Political Science, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway
Characteristics of Professional and Non-Professional Football Players – An Eight-Year Follow-Up of Three Age Cohorts
Identification of the most talented youth players is regarded as a key part of the talent development process in football. The basis for the criteria is naturally affected by the characteristics of the early-detected talented players. Nonetheless, earlier research has found limited evidenced for different criteria in this process. This study has examined whether professional and non-professional football players showed differences in player and coach characteristics as talented youth-level players eight years earlier. A total of 103 players selected for Norwegian youth national teams (age cohorts 1991–1993) participated in this study. Based on player and coach characteristics, the results showed that non-professional players had the most playing time and felt more successful in comparison to the professional players. The professional players, however, reported higher ambitions and a higher number of weekly-organized training sessions. No differences between the professional and non-professional players showed in terms of their relationship to their coaches were found. The study concludes that we need more research on identification criteria to be able to predict which abilities and skills should be sought in the identification process for youth-level players. As in earlier research, this study also found a poor relationship between youth performance and senior performance.
Talent, Youth, Skills, Football, Identification
Ames, C. (1992). Classrooms: Goals, structures, and student motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 84(3), 261–271.
Ashworth, J., & Heyndels, B. (2007). Selection bias and peer effects in team sports: The effect of age grouping on earnings of German soccer players. Journal of Sports Economics, 8, 355–377.
Carlson, R. (1991). Vågen til landslaget. En retrospektiv studie av framgångsrika ungdomar i sju idrotter. Stockholm, Sweden: Högskolan för lärarutbildning.
Cushion, C., Ford, P. R., & Williams, M. A. (2010). Coach behaviours and practice structures in youth soccer: Implications for talent development. J Sports Sci, 30(15), 1631–1641.
Durand-Bush, N., & Salmela, J. H. (2001). The development of talent in sport. In R. N. Singer, H. A. Hausenblau & C. M. Janelle (Eds.), Handbook of sport psychology. New York: Wiley.
Ericsson, K. A., Krampe, R., & Tesch-Römer, C. (1993). The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. Psychological Review, 100, 363–406.
Ford, P. R., Carling, C., Garces, M., Marques, M., Miguel, C., Farrant, A., . . . Williams, M. (2012). The developmental activities of elite soccer players aged under-16 years from Brazil, England, France, Ghana, Mexico, Portugal and Sweden. J Sports Sci, 30(15), 1653–1663. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2012.701762
Ford, P. R., Yates, I., & Williams, M. A. (2010). An analysis of practice activities and instructional behaviours used by youth soccer coaches during practice. J Sports Sci, 28(5), 483–495.
Gagné, F. (2000). Understanding the complex choreography of talent development through DMFT-based analysis. In K. A. Heller, F. J. Mönks, R. J. Sternberg & R. Subotnik (Eds.), International handbook for research on giftedness and talent (pp. 67–79). Oxford, UK: Pergamon Press.
Hall, H. K., Kerr, A. K., Kozub, S. A., & Finnie, S. B. (2006). Motivational antecedents of obligatory exercise: The influence of achievement goals and multidimensional perfectionism. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 8, 297–316.
Haugaasen, M., Toering, T., & Jordet, G. (2014a). From childhood to senior professional football: A multi-level approach to elite youth football players’ engagement in football-spesific activities. Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 15(4), 336–344.
Haugaasen, M., Toering, T., & Jordet, G. (2014b). From childhood to senior professional football: Elite youth player´engagement in non-football activities. J Sports Sci, 32(20), 1–10.
Helsen, W. F., Baker, J., Michiels, S., Schorer, J., Van Winckel, J. V., & Williams, M. (2012). The relative age effect in European professional soccer: Did ten years of research make any difference? J Sports Sci, 30(15), 1665–1671.
Höner, O., & Feichtinger, P. (2016). Psychological talent predictors in early adolescence and their empirical relationship with current and future performance in soccer. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 25, 17–26.
Kristiansen, E., & Roberts, G. C. (2010). Young elite athletes and social support: Coping with competitive and organizational stress in “Olympic” competition. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 20, 686–695.
Larsen, C. H., Alfermann, D., Henriksen, K., & Christensen, M. K. (2013). Successfull talent development in soccer: The characteristics of the environment. Sport Exercise Performance, 2, 190–206.
Martindale, R. J. J., Collins, D., & Abraham, A. (2007). Effective talent development: The elite coach perspective in UK sport. Journal of Applied Sport Psycjology, 19, 187–206.
Nerland, E., & Sæther, S. A. (2016). Norwegian football academy players – Players self-assessed competence, perfectionism, goal orientations and motivational climate. Sport Mont Journal, 2, 7–11.
Nicholls, A. R. (2011). Mental toughness and coping in sport. In D. F. Gucciardi & S. Gordon (Eds.), Mental tougness in sport (pp. 30–46). New York: Routledge.
O´Connor, D., Larkin, P., & Williams, A. M. (2016). Talent identification and selection in elite youth football: An Australian context. European Journal of Sport Science, 16(7), 837–844.
Ommundsen, Y., & Roberts, G. C. (1999). Effect of motivational climate profiles in motivational indices in team sport. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 9, 389–397.
Partington, M., & Cushion, C. (2013). An investergaiton of the practice activities and coaching behaviours of professional top- level yuoth soccer coaches. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science, 23, 3, 374–382.
Potrac, P., Jones, R., & Cushion, C. (2007). Understanding power and coach’s role in proffesional English soccer: A preliminary investergaition of coach behavior. Soccer and society, 8, 1, 33–49.
Rees, T., Hardy, L., Güllich, A., Abernethy, B., Côté, J., Woodman, T., . . . Warr, C. (2016). The great British medalists project: A review of current knowledge on the development of the world’s best sporting talent. Sports Medicine, 46(8), 1041–1058. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-016-0476-2
Richardson, D., Gilbourne, S., & Littlewood, M. (2004). Developing support mechanisms for elite young players in a professional football academy: Creative reflections in action research. European Sport Management Quarterly, (4), 195–214.
Rodahl, S., Giske, R., Peters, D. M., & Høigaard, R. (2015). Satisfaction with the coach and mental toughness in elite male ice hockey players. Journal of Sport Behavior, 38, 419–431.
Stambulova, N. (2007). The transition from junior to senior sports: A summary of six Swedish studies. Paper presented at the Book of abstracts. The 12th European Congress of Sport Psychology, Halkidiki: Fepsac.
Sæther, S. A. (2013). Høye ambisjoner og riktig studievalg–eneste vei til en fotballkarriere. Idrottsforum. Downloaded from; http://idrottsforum.org/saether130213/
Sæther, S. A. (2015). Selecting players for youth national teams — A question of birth month and reselection? Science & Sports, 30(6), 314–320. https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scispo.2015.04.005
Sæther, S. A. (2016). Presence of the relative age effect and its eccect on playing time among under-20 players in the Norwegian premier league Tippeligaen — A four-year follow up. Montenegrin Journal of sports science and medicine, (1), 11–15.
Sæther, S. A., Aspvik, N. P., & Høigaard, R. (Submitted). Norwegian football academy players - players’ characteristics, stress and coach-athlete relationship.
Williams, A. M., & Reilly, T. (2000). Talent identification and development in soccer. J Sports Sci, 18(9), 657–667.