Academic performance and self-regulatory skills in elite youth soccer players

Jonker, Laura, Elferink-Gemser, Marije, Toering, Tynke orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2411-2755 and Visscher, Chris (2010) Academic performance and self-regulatory skills in elite youth soccer players. Journal of Sports Sciences, 28 (14). pp. 1605-1614. ISSN 0264-0414

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Although elite athletes have been reported to be high academic achievers, many elite soccer players struggle with a stereotype of being low academic achievers. The purpose of this study was to compare the academic level (pre-university or prevocational) and self-regulatory skills (planning, self-monitoring, evaluation, reflection, effort, and self-efficacy) of elite youth soccer players aged 12–16 years (n = 128) with those of 164 age-matched controls (typical students). The results demonstrate that the elite youth soccer players are more often enrolled in the pre-university academic system, which means that they are high academic achievers, compared with the typical student. The elite players also report an increased use of self-regulatory skills, in particular self-monitoring, evaluation, reflection, and effort. In addition, control students in the preuniversity system had more highly developed self-regulatory skills than those in the pre-vocational system, whereas no difference was observed within the soccer population. This suggests that the relatively stronger self-regulatory skills reported by the elite youth soccer players may be essential for performance at the highest levels of sport competition and in academia.

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