Peer relationships in adolescent competitive soccer

Filed under: Just For Moms, Activities: Babies, Day Care & Education

Besides school starting this week, both of my old children will be playing soccer; it also goes into full swing this week. A study in the Journal of Sports Science last year reported on a study from Norway on soccer. The aim was to examine the relationship between the perceived motivational climate, achievement goals, perfectionism, and indices of peer relationships in a sample of young male and female Norwegian soccer players. The sample consisted of 1719 experienced soccer players (1231 males, 488 females) aged 12-19 years (mean = 14.9 years) who participated in youth soccer competition. The players responded to a questionnaire measuring perceived peer acceptance and quality of friendship in soccer, perceived motivational climate, achievement goals, and perfectionism in soccer.

The analyses conducted revealed that young female players who perceived the motivational climate as predominantly mastery oriented, and who were moderately task oriented and scored negatively on maladaptive perfectionism, reported better relations with their peers in soccer. Constructive peer relations were evident in that they scored positively on companionship with their best friend in soccer; they perceived this friend as being loyal and allowing of free discussion, and they reported being socially accepted by their peers in soccer. Mirroring these findings, young male players who perceived the motivational climate as predominantly performance oriented, who had a moderately negative score on task orientation but a quite strong positive score on maladaptive perfectionism, reported negative relationships with peers in terms of these aspects. They also reported being in conflict with their best soccer friend. The findings suggest that the qualities of motivation have a systematic relationship with peer acceptance and the quality of friendship in male and female youth soccer.

This was an interesting study, particularly after watching many, many soccer games of both children in the past year. If asked to guess the difference, I likely would have come close to summarizing how my daughter and her team mates perceive soccer. I can also see the same trends in boys. Of course, being a true Soccer Mom, almost all of the negative characteristics I've seen in the teams my son has played!

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.