Can elite male academy players be taught to perform under pressure?
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AbstractTo gain a professional contract in UK academy football, young players must demonstrate an ability to perform under pressure (Larsen et al., 2014). A systematic review was conducted to synthesise findings from applied studies that focus on interventions developed to enhance an individual's ability to cope under performance pressure. Simulation training alongside cognitive-behavioural (CB) workshops was an intervention format that may develop an academy football player’s ability to perform within the highly-pressurised environment of academy football (Bell, Hardy and Beattie, 2013). A limitation of much simulation training that is intended to help individuals perform in highly-pressurised environments is the failure to generate meaningful performance pressure. Similarly, CB workshops can also be limited in their effectiveness due to a failure to identify contextually specific factors that may develop coping skills. Such factors should be embedded within CB workshops to align with the needs of individuals in their respective pressure domain. Moreover, study one of this programme of research aimed to identify meaningful pressure conditioned stimuli, along with factors perceived to be facilitative or debilitative of performance under pressure within academy soccer. The perceptions of pressure, and factors of influence identified within study one were used by academy coaches to inform the design of a contextually specific pressure intervention. Study two, presents and evaluates this pressure training intervention. A mixed-methods approach using quantitative (simulation training data) and qualitative data (interviews with players and reflective diary extracts) provided insight into the effectiveness of the pressure intervention. Findings indicate that simulation training alone could enhance performance under pressure within age groups 11-14 years. Players across all age groups described improvement in confidence, emotional intelligence, meta-cognition, focus and challenge appraisal following the intervention. Future research is warranted to investigate the benefits of simulation training and CB workshops within a larger sample, over-time.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
SponsorsUniversity of Wolverhampton
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