The archetypes of masculinity and collective unconscious in elite English football academics

Zuch, Nicholas (2017) The archetypes of masculinity and collective unconscious in elite English football academics. Journal of Sports Sciences, 35 (S1). p. 158. ISSN 0264-0414

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It is hypothesised that the human unconscious consists of two layers: the personal unconscious and collective unconscious (Jung, 1959, The archetypes and the collective unconscious. London: Routledge). Personal experience is theorised to define the former while inherent behavioural patterns, dubbed archetypes, form the latter, these being universal to all human minds. Previous studies reveal that individuals exhibiting mature archetypes, specifically the warrior archetype, can enhance development and performance in sport. (Moore & Gillete, 1990, King, warrior, magician, lover: rediscovering the archetypes of the mature masculine. San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers). The psychosocial journey from immature hero to mature
warrior is conceptualised as a complex interweaving between an individual’s collective unconscious, inherited self, and environment that is yet to be contextualised.
Therefore, the aims of this study on talent development and performance in English football academies are to explore the implications of the immature and mature archetypes called the hero and the warrior, and their bipolar counterparts the bully and the coward, and the sadist and the masochist. This is with a view to exploring the impact of various talent development environments and coaching methods on the psychosocial development of football players. Following ethical approval, a two stage ethnographic study was conducted using an interpretist approach. Stage one was comprised of eight field observations (four per team) of an under nine and under ten team in a category three English football academy. In stage two semi-structured interviews with key academy staff members concerning their experiences with and perceptions of the participants and the club’s talent pathway to establish major and minor themes. Results indicate that although they are considered psychosocially immature, participants were accessing the warrior/hero and their bipolar archetypes numerous times during one session/ game. Participants who displayed behaviours of the warrior and hero archetypes regularly were perceived by academy staff to be developing and performing more effectively in comparison to participants habitually accessing the bipolar archetypes. Results also show a potential link between the use of planned traumas in a situational based approach underpinned by a warrior/hero-based culture and effective development of these archetypes.
Further research is required to fully comprehend the psychosocial maturation process from the immature to the
mature warrior archetype and the mediators to psychosocial growth before stronger conclusions are made.
Correspondingly, the researcher recommends that practitioners in English football academies identify the archetypes
that an athlete is displaying and facilitate appropriate experiences to enhance development and performance.

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