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A Qualitative Exploration of Substitutes’ Experiences in Soccer

Bernadette Woods and Joanne Thatcher

The purpose of this study was to conduct a qualitative exploration of the substitute role in an attempt to uncover detailed understanding of soccer players’ experiences. Twenty soccer substitutes were individually interviewed. Inductive content analysis revealed that they experienced mainly negative organizational, person and competitive factors as substitutes, with fewer positive experiences. Organizational factors were: receiving short notice, segregation, poor coach communication, inactivity and restricted preparation. Person factors were: dissatisfaction with status, self-presentation and impression motivation concerns, reduced control over performance and coach’s decisions, reduced motivation to prepare, negative emotions and elevated state anxiety. Positive responses were: role acceptance, remaining focused, enthusiastic and confident and performing well. Sport psychologists, team-mates and coaches should be aware of these experiences and how they can help substitutes cope with their role.