Psychological skills, playing positions and performance of African youth soccer teams

  • J Jooste
  • BJM Steyn
  • L Van Der Berg
Keywords: Athletic Coping Skills Inventory-28 (ACSI-28), Bull’s Mental Skills Questionnaire, Psychological skills, Playing positions, Youth soccer.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the psychological skills of African youth soccer players in different playing positions. The role of psychological skills and overall team performance was also determined. The sample consisted of male soccer players (N=152) between the ages of 14 and 18 years from 10 African countries competing in the 2010 Copa Coca-Cola soccer tournament. A cross-sectional survey design was used to determine the players’ psychological skills by means of the Bull’s Mental Skills Questionnaire and the Athletic Coping Skills Inventory-28 (ACSI-28). Results yielded insignificant differences between the subscale scores of the players in different playing positions. Concentration was the only psychological variable associated with performance. The middle four-ranked teams outscored the most successful and least successful teams in relaxation. Findings from this study could not confirm the widely acclaimed research assumption that psychological skill demands differ among players in different playing positions, nor the positive correlation between psychological skills and team success. Future research should investigate the perceptions and extent of psychological skills training among African youth soccer players, as well as the efficiency of psychological skills interventions aimed at enhancing overall team performance.

Key words: Athletic Coping Skills Inventory-28 (ACSI-28); Bull’s Mental Skills Questionnaire; Psychological skills; Playing positions; Youth soccer.


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0379-9069