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Competitive engineering is a process whereby sport organizations modify the rules, facilities, and equipment involved in sport to facilitate desirable athlete outcomes and experiences. Competitive engineering is being increasingly adopted by youth sport organizations with empirical evidence positively supporting its influence on skill development and performance. The purpose of this study was to explore young female athletes’ experiences in their modified soccer environment. Seventeen recreational and competitive soccer players, aged 8–11, participated in semistructured photo elicitation interviews that featured several visual qualitative methods (i.e., athlete-directed photography, drawing exercises, and pile-sorting) to facilitate insight on their sport environments. Results revealed that the athletes’ competitively engineered soccer experience was perceived as being a distinct environment that emphasized personal development, positive relationships, and the underlying enjoyment of sport. These findings shed light of how youth sport structure modifications influence the athletes’ experiences, providing practical implications to further promote positive youth sport experiences.
The authors are with the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.