Practitioner Perspectives on the Barriers Associated With Youth-to-Senior Transition in Elite Youth Soccer Academy Players

in International Sport Coaching Journal
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  • 1 Leeds Beckett University
  • 2 Liverpool John Moores University
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There are concerns surrounding the lack of players making the transition from youth to professional status within English professional soccer. Stakeholders, such as coaches, have been largely overlooked by researchers often focussing on player experiences. The authors aimed to explore soccer practitioner perceptions of the debilitating factors associated with youth-to-senior progression. Practitioners were chosen as they inform the working practices and are the cultural architects of the environment in which players operate. Interviews were conducted with 18 soccer practitioners (male = 17 and female = 1). These included coaches (n = 6), academy managers (n = 8), and staff involved with education and welfare (n = 4). The data were thematically analysed, and four themes were identified (cultural climate, working practices, occupational hazards, and social challenges). The analysis provided a clear picture of the transition landscape faced by players seeking to make the youth-to-senior transition through the eyes of soccer practitioners. The findings present a novel viewpoint to facilitate reflection around their own practice when managing youth-to-senior transitions. Further research is needed to triangulate player experiences and operational aspects of facilitating transitions, which could lead to the creation of best practice guidance.

Mitchell and Gledhill are with the Carnegie School of Sport, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, United Kingdom. Nesti, Richardson, and Littlewood are with the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, United Kingdom. Mitchell is also with the Research Centre for Sport Coaching, Carnegie School of Sport, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, United Kingdom.

Mitchell (t.o.mitchell@leedsbeckett.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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