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College Soccer Athlete’s Skills-development Processes Systems

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Management
Wordcount: 3467 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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The paper aims to give a comprehensive account of the college soccer athlete’s skills-development processes systems worldwide comparing them to the same processes systems in Russian Federation. Another goal is to show up the key internal and external factors influencing these systems. The paper offers both theoretical and empirical research methods. Thus full-bodied study of literature is used for collecting data on approaches to organization of college soccer athletes skills-development processes global wide. As for empirical methods, close cooperation with the National Students Football League (hereinafter – «NSFL») has gave an opportunity to interview more than 25 college team’s managers and to poll 170 players, coaches and decision bodies of NSFL. Subsequently, both correlation and factor analyses are carried out based on collected data. All these methods are set to build up a well-structured understanding of potential improvement scenarios of the soccer college athlete’s development in Russia, taking into account the idiosyncrasy of Russian reality. The paper starts up with the actualization of the studied subject, continues with literature review, discloses research methods, then moves on to practical results, and finally clarifies the importance of further studies.


Background. As Russia has hosted the 2014 Olympics and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, in last 5 years, accordingly to Vesti.ru (2018) there has been a growing overall interest in professional sports in Russia, especially in football. Increased interest generally leads to growth of number of children, teenagers wishing to become a professional athlete; it also motivates a big amount of youth amateur athletes to keep working on their career path. The vital question right now is whether Russian soccer athletes-development system is ready to face such a growth and to provide quality and consistent training of young athletes at all stages of development.

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Problem statement. This issue is not properly investigated as a whole set of components, which means there is a lack of research papers concerning it. That is why current research aims to explore world’s best practices of organizing of athlete’s development processes and to compare them to Russian practices revealing the advantages and disadvantages in their functioning and identifying the factors of influence. That would definitely reduce the knowledge gap existing in the scientific approach to the development of young athletes in Russia.

Thus, accordingly to the above-mentioned information the key research objectives are to collect reliable data on research subject using literature review and polling, to interpret data correctly, to determine factors that mostly affect the process of college-athletes development by using factor analysis, to build “As is” and “To be” process of athletes development in NSFL.

Delimitations of the Study. This paper generally focuses on college football, which means it considers athletes between 16 and 23 years old. The study also slightly addresses to children’s sports, which precedes college sports and professional sports, which follows college sports. The focus on college athletes is directly connected to existing tendency: Russian young soccer players starting to struggle in their development especially right after graduating from children’s and youth sports schools. (Zasoulskiy, 2018) The present study considers the development of college-level athletes as part of Long-term Athletes Development (hereinafter – LTAD) and takes into account all kinds of approaches to the development of professional skills of young players, inherent in different countries.

The key idea is to address not only the sporting component of athletes training, but also to pay attention to the infrastructure surrounding the athletes, sports psychology, media coverage of sporting events, the issues related to athletes education and other important issues for the development of professional skills.

Professional significance. The idea under consideration can be currently significant for the Russian college-level soccer players development system. None of the Russian researchers considered the training of student athletes as a complex system. The Russian research space is filled with works relating to the development of sports skills of athletes, with complete disregard for other factors affecting the development of athletes. The new approach is essentially necessary to reach a better understanding of the correctly designed process of college-level athletes’ development both in soccer and in other team sports.

Literature Review

Numerous attempts have been made to find a reliable literature on the subject, however, as is the case with sports research, difficulties have arisen. As it said earlier, it is extremely difficult to find high quality and capacious scientific works on the topic of this research. The specificity of researches in the field of sports is characterized by a relatively small amount of work, as well as the low degree of openness of such researches. This is primarily because researches in the field of sports are mostly carrying out by the sports clubs themselves under the guidance of sports officials and in most cases are not conducted by independent researchers. The results of such studies are considered to be “know-how” and kept secret from the publicity and competing clubs. However, it is exceedingly important to gather as much reliable and relevant information as possible. Therefore, this paper intends to create a point of contact between the approaches to the organization of processes in management and a combination of diverse approaches to the development of athletes. That means the research contains theoretical coverage of both process management and sports science.

The theoretical basis for process management is based on existed well-developed scientific articles. However, for the set of sports science disciplines current research mostly uses the analysis of articles published by sports media worldwide. Considering the detailed geographical features of the distribution of information, it can be noted that a lot of information on this issue is concentrated in English-language sources, the authors of which are sports experts from the US, significantly fewer articles in Europe, and even fewer in Russia.

Research in the field of process management is widespread, and the phenomenon itself is sufficiently studied. Since the process management of sports organizations and organizations aimed at making a profit differ significantly, this paper aims to highlight the key principles and the ideology of process management. In the further construction of the application model, it is expected to transform these fundamental principles to the needs and goals of sports organizations, taking into account the results of empirical research presented in this paper.

According to Marlon Dumas Marcello La Rosa et al. (2013) a process is a collection of events, activities and decisions that collectively lead to an outcome that brings value to an organization’s customers. Every organization has processes. Process management is a continuous cycle comprising the following phases: process identification, process discovery, process analysis, process redesign, process implementation, process monitoring and controlling. Process management is a body of principles, methods and tools to design, analyze, execute and monitor processes. Main modeling perspectives that belong to a process are Activities, events, gateways, artifacts and resources. The functional perspective captures the activities that are performed in a business process while the control-flow perspective combines those activities and related events in a given order. (La Rosa et al., 2013)

Moving on a part concerning sports science it is necessary to note that there are several approaches addressing the professional development problems of student-athletes, which can complement each other, since they are aimed at different components of development process.

The first approach considers the development of athletes in terms of career readiness. Judy L. Van Raalte (nd) states that “although not always recognized as such, “student-athlete” is a foundational career that provides opportunities to develop leadership, communication, teamwork, motivation, and organizational skills.” In additional, multiple researches proposed their own explanation of student athlete struggle large amount of college athletes lag behind their peers, in terms of career readiness, failing to recognize that sports and sports-related are extremely valued on work market. (Hook, 2012; Linnemeyer et al, 2010; Murphy, et al., 1996). Bolles in his research conducted in 2014, as one of supporters of this approach has emphasized 11 transferrable skills, listed below:

  • Communication
  • Organization
  • Teamwork
  • Physical Health
  • Leadership
  • Coping
  • Ethics and Conduct
  • Execution
  • Problem-Solving
  • Creativity
  • Self-Motivation

Several research claim that very often the unique demands of intercollegiate sport and the lack of awareness of transferable skills may contribute to student-athletes’ career development deficiencies (Ferrante et al., 2009; Murphy, 1995).

The alternative standpoint focuses on the stages of the sequential development process, named as Long-term Athlete Development. The idea behind this approach has been presented in Istvan Balyi’s research. Balyi’s LTAD model concentrates on physical and biological aspects of athlete development. The purpose of the created model is to ensure a long-term development path through athlete’s career (Balyi, 2001).

We cannot disregard the impact of Angela Abbot’s and colleagues’ who created a model of psychological characteristics of developing excellence. They state that their model differs from the other basic development models. This model concentrates on psychological factors between developmental stages through athlete’s pathway (Bailey et al. 2010, 26). Abbot’s and Collin’s article (2004) emphasize the fact, that the psychology is crucial for young athletes to reach their sporting potential. Abbot and Collins state that athletes’ personalities are less important than the various psychological assets such as “goal setting, realistic performance evaluation and commitment.” Mentioned factors differ medal and non-medal athletes. These attributes are subject to training and development, while it is more challenging to change personality of an athlete.

Bailey et al. (2010) have conducted a research where they analyzed implemented schools’ development, also as students’ and teachers’ perceptions about such strategies from a point of view of talent identification and development. The model contains three main hypotheses that are important for proper talent development.

The first hypothesis, which was that current performance athlete subjective was confirmed. It is incorrect to judge the talent and giftness of an athlete, because his performance depends on multiple non-sporting factors, such as investment in the athlete, training conditions, social status.

The second hypothesis was that the development of an athlete consists of many aspects. Success in sports and physical education is more than physical condition. Understanding the full range of physical, intrapersonal, interpersonal, cognitive, and creative abilities can make athletes more successful.

The third hypothesis pointed to the importance of practice. Ericsson et al. concluded in their study that the best results achieved in sports are the result of continuous practice. To become successful, athlete need a lot of practice, and the quality of practice cannot be ignored. (Ericsson et al., 1993)

A focus on talent development environment and environment success factor models should also be considered as an approach to improve athletes’ development. Athlete talent development environment (ATDE) model has been created, based on studies of Henriksen et al. (Henriksen et al., 2010; Henriksen et al., 2011). The idea of this model is to focus not only on the characteristics and on actions of the athlete, but also on the infrastructure and environment of the club or school that surrounds him. Environment success factors model (ESF) created by Henriksen et al. provides factors that are helping talented athletes to move on to elite athlete in their sport.

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The factors include conditions, such as human, material and financial; the processes, for example practices, camps and tournaments; organizational culture, including artefacts and basic assumptions, and the individual and team development and achievements. ATDE and ESF models complement each other so that ATDE provides a framework to describe the environment and ESF helps to summarize factors influencing its effectiveness. (Cited in: Laakso Bachelor’ s thesis).

Thus, it should be noted that the particular components of the development of young athletes are sufficiently studied separately in various disciplines, but none of the researchers dared to create an applied model that would take into account all aspects of the development of an athlete.


This part of the proposal will pinpoint the key features of gathering and processing of the data. The choice of methodology is largely determined by close cooperation with the NSFL. Such cooperation provides access to the participating teams, including coaches, players, press attaché teams and managers, as well as the board of directors of NSFL. Total amount is nearly 900 people. For the collection of primary information will be used both quantitative and qualitative methods. Players will be interviewed using a survey that will allow the players to relate to the training process, the surrounding infrastructure, and their future career. It is expected to conduct in-depth interviews with at least 10 coaches from different teams to identify the characteristic features of the development of young football players in the Russian reality.

The next step is to conduct a factor analysis to determine the most significant factors influencing the development of young football players in Russia. Factor analysis will be carried out according to the standard procedure, using the SPSS. At the same time, to identify the relationship between the development processes that exist in football clubs of the NSFL and how the players relate to them, it is planned to use a correlation analysis. Correlation analysis will also be used to identify the relationship between systems of development of athletes and sports results, which the team demonstrates in the NSFL.

The set of the methods mentioned above aims to create a comprehensive vision and understanding of the situation in Russian student football and identify weak points and potential areas of improvement of the national system of training young football players.

Results Anticipated

The results of such a large-scale study will be as follows: firstly, based on conducted factor analysis we would identify previously unnoticed financial, sports, social, geopolitical and other factors influencing the development environment of athletes-students in Russia. Secondly, conducting surveys and interviews with athletes and sports functionaries will allow us to form an objective assessment of the current state of the development system of football players not only within the NSFL but also within other student competitions in the territory of the Russian Federation, which will allow to identify the most vulnerable places inherent in our country. Thirdly, the identification of such factors, as well as the construction of causal relationships between various events and results, will allow to develop an applied model for the development of young football players, adapted to Russian reality, that would include full-designed sports management processes. In addition, an important result will be a heating up of interest in this topic, as well as the development of the history of the issue in this direction in the Russian scientific space in the sports management section.


The processes of development of professional skills of young football players in particular, are poorly studied, which subsequently leads to the end of the careers of young athletes at an early stage. This, in turn, threatens the success of the national team and the national football championship. Russian sports industry has to implement massively scientific approaches to the development of young football players in its activity, because only this can guarantee in long-term period. This study, with its advantages and disadvantages, should in one way or another serve as a starting point for further Russian studies on this and related topics.


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