Positional comparisons of mental toughness, psychological skills and group cohesion among soccer players
Differences in the sport psychological skill levels of team sport athletes (e.g., volleyball, rugby union, netball and field hockey) in different playing positions suggest that each playing position bears unique psychological demands. There seems to be contracting results and limited information on this topic in soccer. The aim of this study was to determine whether significant positional differences existed for various psychosocial variables among 263 student soccer players (M age = 22.64 years, SD = 2.28; range 1 – 32 years). The participants indicated their
primary playing position (goalkeeper, defender, midfielder or forward) and completed three instruments before the start of the University Sport South Africa soccer championship; the Sports Mental Toughness Questionnaire (SMTQ) of Sheard et al. (2009), the Athletic Coping Skills Inventory-28 (ACSI-28) of Smith et al. (1995), and the Group Environment Questionnaire (GEQ) of Carron et al. (1985). A one-way analysis of variance with least significant difference post-hoc tests was performed. With regard to mental toughness the defenders scored higher than the midfielders on constancy, whilst the midfielders exerted greater control than the defenders and forwards respectively. No positional differences were evident for the seven psychological skills. The group integration-task scores of the forwards and goalkeepers were higher than that of the midfielders. The results confirm the general assumption that positional differences exist for various psychosocial variables among team sport athletes. Implications for psychological skills training programmes and the development of group cohesion aimed at enhancing performance are discussed.
Keywords: Football, psychological skills training, SMTQ, ACSI-28, GEQ