Working on talented young rugby players: The case study of an Italian under-17 academy

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The debate on the influence of psychosocial factors on the development of sporting talent is still in progress (Mills et al., 2012). Some of the latest models reveal that not only mental abilities but also relational and environmental factors influence the process of grooming talent (Alferman et al., 2013; Cotè et al., 2014). In Italy, the rugby movement is enjoying strong growth and expansion. In recent years, the Italian Rugby Federation has developed many initiatives to promote youth sports, including the establishment of six regional under-17 academies. The case study presented here was carried out in a regional rugby academy. Using a systemic and ecological approach (Henriksen et al., 2014), it aims to highlight the psychosocial elements that lead to a better outcome in the process of developing talent. A qualitative study was carried out. Six focus groups (30 athletes living in the one of the academies) and eleven semi-structured interviews (with the technical staff and with parents) were conducted. All material was transcribed verbatim and the content analysed with an ongoing phenomenological-interpretive approach. A first analysis of the qualitative data highlights that the strong motivation investment of the athletes goes hand in hand with a strong need for listening and dialogue with adult figures. The investment in performance and the growth of the individual technique of the athletes is likely to clash with possible failures in the cases of those fragile athletes who cannot find adequate space for psycho-emotional growth in their environment. These results have strong implications in a psychological point of view; the relevance of an holistic taking charge of talented athletes is highlighted. Technical and athletic programmes need to be implemented, not only by the development of mental abilities, but also by planning ‘places’ and ‘times’ for dialogue with them, and to accompany their development.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteSport Psychology - Theories and Application for Performance, Health and Humanities. Proceedings of the 14th European Congress of Sport Psychology
Numero di pagine2
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2015
Evento14th European Congress of Sport Psychology - Berna
Durata: 14 lug 201519 lug 2015


Convegno14th European Congress of Sport Psychology


  • TAlent development in sport
  • rugby


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