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Rafael A. B. Tedesqui and Bradley W. Young

Conscientiousness, grit, and self-control are personality characteristics that have been shown to differentially predict several criteria of expertise development, including athletes’ deliberate practice and higher skill levels. However, little is known about coaches’ views on (a) how these conscientiousness-related traits translate into behaviors within the daily training environment or (b) the relevance of these traits for athletes’ quantity and quality of practice and development toward expert levels of performance. To fill these gaps, semistructured open-ended interviews were conducted with 11 high-performance coaches (nine males and two females) of individual and team sports, and national and international competitive levels. The interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis guidelines. The coaches’ descriptions evidenced some overlap between the investigated traits and a partial view of these constructs. They generally believed that grit, conscientiousness, and self-control play critical roles on athletes’ quality of practice and skill development. Notably, the coaches highlighted that tendencies to persevere despite adversity and mindfully use self-regulated processes seem to be powerful predispositions for athletes’ development toward expert performance levels. The results suggested potential mechanisms to help explain the observed relationship between conscientiousness-related traits and athletes’ quality of practice and skill development.

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Rafael A.B. Tedesqui and Terry Orlick

The purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore the attentional focus experienced by elite soccer players in different soccer positions and performance tasks of both closed and open skills. No previous studies have explored elite soccer players’ attentional skills from a naturalistic and qualitative perspective in such detail. Data collection consisted of individual semistructured interviews with eight highly elite Brazilian soccer players from five main soccer positions, namely goalkeeper, defender, wing, midfielder, and forward. Important themes were positive thinking, performing on autopilot, and relying on peripheral vision. For example, thematic analysis indicated that in tasks where there may be an advantage in disguising one’s intentions (e.g., penalty kick), relying on peripheral vision was essential. Early mistakes were among the main sources of distractions; thus, players reported beginning with easy plays as a strategy to prevent distractions. Implications for applied sport psychology were drawn and future studies recommended.