Academic performance and self-regulatory skills in elite youth soccer players

J Sports Sci. 2010 Dec;28(14):1605-14. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2010.516270.


Although elite athletes have been reported to be high academic achievers, many elite soccer players struggle with a stereotype of being low academic achievers. The purpose of this study was to compare the academic level (pre-university or pre-vocational) and self-regulatory skills (planning, self-monitoring, evaluation, reflection, effort, and self-efficacy) of elite youth soccer players aged 12-16 years (n = 128) with those of 164 age-matched controls (typical students). The results demonstrate that the elite youth soccer players are more often enrolled in the pre-university academic system, which means that they are high academic achievers, compared with the typical student. The elite players also report an increased use of self-regulatory skills, in particular self-monitoring, evaluation, reflection, and effort. In addition, control students in the pre-university system had more highly developed self-regulatory skills than those in the pre-vocational system, whereas no difference was observed within the soccer population. This suggests that the relatively stronger self-regulatory skills reported by the elite youth soccer players may be essential for performance at the highest levels of sport competition and in academia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achievement*
  • Adolescent
  • Athletes*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Educational Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Schools
  • Self Concept*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Soccer*
  • Social Control, Informal*