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Combining Sport and Study in High School: An Insight Into a Dual Career Environment in Estonia

Kristel Kiens and Carsten H. Larsen

Although dual career research has received growing attention, there is a lack of research specifically focusing on whole dual career development environments (DCDEs). The overall aim of this study was to provide a thorough insight into a DCDE with two main objectives, as follows: (a) provide a holistic description of a DCDE and connections within the environment and (b) examine factors influencing the environment’s success in supporting student-athletes’ development. The data analysis and collection were guided by recently developed DCDE and dual career environment’s success factors (DC-ESF) models. The data were gathered from multiple perspectives via interviews, informal discussions, and observations to analyze a real-life setting and its everyday processes. The authors found that the school’s dual career philosophy was aimed toward supporting holistic growth development via communication, feedback, and flexibility. The main success factors contributing to the environment’s success were placing importance on effort and task-related focus in everyday activities, being flexible, reinforcing openness, and developing responsibility in student-athletes. Furthermore, providing a systematic daily schedule, establishing systematic information sharing, and organizing a variety of school events contributed to the development of planning, and time management, resilience, effort, and communication skills in student-athletes represented factors of success. These findings are presented in two empirical models (DCDE and DC-ESF) of the Audentes Sports Gymnasium.

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Mental Health Profiles of Danish Youth Soccer Players: The Influence of Gender and Career Development

Andreas Kuettel, Natalie Durand-Bush, and Carsten H. Larsen

The purpose of this study was (a) to investigate gender differences in mental health among Danish youth soccer players, (b) to discover the mental health profiles of the players, and (c) to explore how career progression and mental health are related. A total of 239 Danish youth elite soccer players (M = 16.85, SD = 1.09) completed an online questionnaire assessing mental well-being, depression, anxiety, along with other background variables. Female players scored significantly lower on mental well-being and had four times higher odds of expressing symptoms of anxiety and depression than males. Athletes’ mental health profiles showed that most athletes experience low depression while having moderate mental well-being. Depression, anxiety, and stress scores generally increased when progressing in age, indicating that the junior–senior transition poses distinct challenges to players’ mental health, especially for female players. Different strategies to foster players’ mental health depending on their mental health profiles are proposed.

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Preparing Footballers for the Next Step: An Intervention Program From an Ecological Perspective

Carsten H. Larsen, Dorothee Alfermann, Kristoffer Henriksen, and Mette K. Christensen

The purpose of this article is to present practitioners and applied researchers with specific details of an ecological-inspired program and intervention in a professional football (soccer) club in Denmark. Based on an ecological agenda, the aim is to reinforce the culture of psychosocial development in the daily practice of a professional football academy, provide the skills required to succeed at the professional level and create stronger relations between the youth and professional departments. The authors suggest six principles as fundamental governing principles to inform an intervention inspired by the holistic ecological perspective. Descriptions of the intervention program and findings are presented in four interconnected steps. Insights are provided into delivery of workshops, the supervision of the coach, on-pitch training, evaluation of the program, and integrating sport psychology as a part of the culture within the club.