Vol. 12 2021, pages 85–111
Published May 10, 2021
Talent development at upper secondary school: A retrospective study of youth football players experience of combining school and football
The purpose of this study was to gain insight into how young football players experience combining sports-related upper secondary education with being a player at a high national level. More specifically, this study will look at players’ experience of the opportunity to complete a “dual career” (Stambulova & Wylleman, 2015) in the form of time and facilitation of investment in both football and school, and regulation of organized training in the form of deliberate practice (Ericsson et al., 1993) to optimize players’ opportunities for development as football players. The participants consist of eight informants who have all attended a sports study program in upper secondary school and were included in the senior squad of a club in Norwegian top football. The informants were interviewed about their experience of how it affected their development as football players. The results showed that the players’ motives for choosing a sports discipline were mainly based on sporting motives and to a lesser extent school-related, where in many ways they consider the sports program study program only as a tool to prioritize football and increase their commitment to a football career. The players also described a large degree of facilitation for sporting development with a holistic approach, although they sometimes describe large amounts of training, which they perceived as positive for their development, but also as a tough physical strain. The results showed a clear difference in favor of the best players who had a better organized everyday life compared to players with a lower skill level. Even though the school tried to facilitate the school subjects, this arrangement worked, according to the players, somewhat worse than the sporting one. An important function in this context was that the players had a contact person between the club and the school, who arranged between the two parties, to some frustration among the teachers according to the players, who perceived that the facilitation went too far. It may seem that the sports-related fields of study fulfill their purpose of facilitation, but mainly on the basis of the sporting and to a lesser extent in relation to the school subjects, with the exception of the study-specific subjects.
About the Authors
STIG ARVE SÆTHER is an Associate Professor in sport science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Department of Sociology and Political science. Main research interests; talent development, youth sport and sport psychology. His largest research project is a longitudinal 10-year follow-up study. Sæther is head of the research group: Skill and Performance Development in Sport and School.
ANDERS NYGAARD has a master’s degree in sport science from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Department of Sociology and Political science. Nygaard is also a semi-professional football player in the OBOS-league club Stjørdals-Blink Sports Club.
BJØRN TORE JOHANSEN, PhD, is a Professor of sport sciences in the Faculty of Health & Sport Sciences, University of Agder. His areas of expertise are sport & exercise psychology, teaching and learning in higher education, and qualitative research methods. He is a member of the research group SEP-HEP (Sport and Exercise Psychology: Health, Education, and Performance).
MARTIN ERIKSTAD is a postdoctoral researcher at Faculty of Health & Sport Sciences at University of Agder. His research interests are centered around factors influencing athletes` development and participation, and covers topics such as expertise development, group dynamics and coaching. Martin is also a member of the research group SEP-HEP.