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We assessed young adolescent female soccer players’ perceptions of their peer group experiences. Data were collected via interviews with 34 girls from two youth soccer teams (M age = 13.0 years). Following inductive discovery analysis, data were subjected to an interpretive theoretical analysis guided by a model of peer experiences (Rubin, Bukowski, & Parker, 2006). Five categories of peer experiences were identified across three levels of social complexity. At the interaction level players integrated new members into the team and learned to interact with different types of people. At the relationship level players learned about managing peer conflict. At the group level a structure of leadership emerged and players learned to work together. Findings demonstrated interfaces between peer interactions, relationships, and group processes while also simplifying some apparently complex systems that characterized peer experiences on the teams studied.
Holt, Black, and Tamminen are with the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Fox is with the Department of Exercise, Nutrition, and Health Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, U.K.; and Mandigo is with the Department of Physical Education and Kinesiology, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.