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A psycho-social examination of the developing mastery phase within English Premier League football

Dowling, C (2020) A psycho-social examination of the developing mastery phase within English Premier League football. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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In recent years, the youth to senior transition in football has been considered something of a hot topic (Finn & Mckenna, 2010), particularly in England due to the lack of home-grown players becoming established first team football players in the English Premier League (EPL) clubs (Green, 200). However, the work of Richardson, Relvas and Littlewood (2013) suggested there is a longer, potentially more complex phase that exists beyond this transitional phase, labelled the ‘developing mastery phase’ due to it being a prolonged period in-between the developing phase and mastery phase of development (Bloom, 1985; van Rossum, 2001). The current applied thesis examines the development mastery phase within EPL football through a psycho-social perspective with a focus on talent development, transitions and identity (Erikson, 1968). The use of a qualitative research design (semi-structured interviews, ethnography and longitudinal research) allowed the opportunity to capture perspectives, feelings, emotions and thoughts of coaches, players and other support staff over a more protracted period of time. Patton (2002) argues by carrying out qualitative enquiry, researches are better able to understand other people’s points of view, experiences and perspectives without being constrained by the fixed focus of many quantitative methods. Study One utilised semi-structured interviews with six Under21 English Premier League development coaches to explore the structures, roles, responsibilities and practices of coaches working within this phase of development. Results suggested that under21 development coaches were situated, culturally and sometimes physically, inbetween the academy and first team environments, trapped between two distinct cultures. Under21 development coaches also have contrasting views and approaches with regards to the development of under21 players. Study Two adopted an ethnographic approach to explore the day-to-day practices and working environment for both coaches and players alike at the developing mastery phase, with a specific focus on identity (Eriskon, 1968). Results from Study Two highlighted a range of social and psychological issues relating to meaning, purpose, self-motivation and identity. The results specifically demonstrated that as time progresses and players are still in this phase of development, they begin to lose meaning and struggle with motivation at this phase of development. Study Three utilised a longitudinal qualitative approach to interview four players over the course of two seasons with a total of sixteen interviews. The study took a narrative approach to tell the story of two players journey’s as they progressed through this phase of development with a focus on identity development and narrative identity (McAdams, 1985). The results showed the impact of culture and cultural narratives within football on the development of identity in young players and how this can impact how players are perceived within their respective clubs. The results further demonstrate why players may either live, or resist the performance narrative (Carless & Douglas, 2012).

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: talent development; football; EPPP; identity; psychology; qualitative research; narrative research
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2020 19:26
Last Modified: 21 Nov 2022 12:12
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00013195
Supervisors: Richardson, D, Littlewood, M and Nesti, M
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13195
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