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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The role of developmental activities on self-determined motivation, passion and skill in youth soccer players. Hendry, David Thomas


Based upon postulates derived from the Developmental Model of Sports Participation (Côté et al., 2012) we tested the effects of domain specific activities (play and practice), as well as sporting diversity during the sampling years, on the development of motivation, passion and skill ratings. The first component of our study required testing predictions that play and diversity during the sampling years (age 5-12 yr) were positively correlated with intrinsic motivation and passion. We questioned elite youth level soccer players (N= 148), across 3 age groups, who were on the pathway towards achieving professional status at the adult level. Overall, we found no significant correlations between play and early sporting diversity during the sampling years with scores of motivation or passion. A small, yet significant positive correlation was observed between accumulated hours in soccer practice and integrated regulation. However, independent analysis of age groups yielded significant negative correlations between hours accumulated in soccer practice and measures of intrinsic motivation (Under 15 yr) and harmonious passion (Under 17 yr). The second study component investigated associations between time spent in soccer activities during the sampling years and across participants’ full careers as well as sporting diversity with coach ratings of skill. For the U17 group, hours accumulated in organized practice were related to creative and overall skill, while accumulated hours in soccer practice were related to technical skill for the U15 group. Moreover, for the U17 group, % accumulated hours in play negatively correlated with technical and overall skill ratings. The youngest group (U13) showed a different pattern of results to the older players, with more hours in play (% and total) related to creative skill. Due to these overall relationships, we conclude that recommendations towards early sporting diversity and more time in deliberate play activities (i.e., individually-led practice or play) should be treated with caution, because they do not inoculate against any hypothesized negative effects of early specialization in sport and are negatively related to predictors of skill (at least for the older players). Follow-up longitudinal analysis is recommended to determine how these practice and motivation variables are related to future success.

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