A psychological service for young football players in youth-to-senior transition: research in practice

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

The youth-to-senior transition occurs when an athlete enters the higher level of his sport, moving from age-grade competition to playing in open events where participation is unrestricted by age (i.e. the first team of a Club, the national team). A study found that: 17% of junior national champions became senior athletes, while 31% reported stagnation and became recreational athletes, 28% performed irregularly and inconsistently and 24% dropped out (Vanden Auweele, DeMartelaer, Rzewnicki, De Knop, and Wylleman, 2004). Athletes frequently describe the youth-to-senior transition as the hardest of their career, giving the increase of athletic and non-athletic requests they must face (Stambulova et al., 2009). To manage this key passage Clubs should give psychological support to their young athletes. In this contribute we’ll present a project of psychological support dedicated to 16 talented footballers (17-18 years old) of a professional Club, facing the youth-to-senior transition during season 2015/16. For each player has been set an individual path of meeting (4-5 meetings, 1-2 hours each) with a sport psychologist, to reflect on how they were facing the increasing demands from sport and extra sport life and working on their strength and weaknesses. 13/16 players spoke about normal transitions difficulties (i.e hard times at school, with girlfriends or in family), that they perceive must be hidden to coaches or tutor even if they adverse their performance. For 3/16 players, instead the path works only on strengths to face transition process. Players appreciated the individual guarded setting outside team and club’s dynamics they had, where they face the critical issues of sport and non-sport contexts, without being judged. It seems important for professional Clubs and Federations to set up a psychological support service to facilitate the detection of possible risks factors that could cause the loss of many talented athletes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceeding of ISSP 14th World Congress. Sport Psychology: linking theory to practice
Pages167-168
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventISSP 14th World Congress. Sport Psychology: linking theory to practice - Sevilla
Duration: 10 Jul 201714 Jul 2017

Conference

ConferenceISSP 14th World Congress. Sport Psychology: linking theory to practice
CitySevilla
Period10/7/1714/7/17

Keywords

  • youth-to-senior transition, psychological support, risk and protective factors

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