Why Some Make It and Others Do Not: Identifying Psychological Factors That Predict Career Success in Professional Adult Soccer

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Nico W. Van Yperen University of Groningen

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This prospective study was designed to identify psychological factors that predict career success in professional adult soccer. Post hoc, two groups were distinguished: (1) Male soccer players who successfully progressed into professional adult soccer (n = 18) and (2) Male soccer players who did not reach this level (n = 47). Differences between the two groups were examined on the basis of data gathered in the initial phase of their careers, 15 years earlier. The psychological factors that predicted career success while statistically controlling for initial performance level and demographic variables were goal commitment, engagement in problem-focused coping behaviors, and social support seeking. On the basis of their scores on the significant predictor and control variables, 84.6% of the adolescent youth players were classified correctly as successful or unsuccessful.

Van Yperen is with the Dept. of Social and Organizational Psychology, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.

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