Do you have what it takes? An examination of the psychological characteristics that predict success in athletes.

Topic: Selection
Publication: The Sport Psychologist (2009)
Article: Why some make it and others do not: Identifying psychological factors that
predict career success in professional adult soccer
Authors: N. Van Yperen
Reviewed By: Scott Charles Sitrin

Why do some aspiring soccer players reach the professional ranks and others do not? Though some previous research has focused on the psychological characteristics of athletes that are already successful, little research has been conducted on the psychological characteristics that enable aspiring athletes to succeed.

In a study that sought to do just that, Dutch psychologist Nico Van Yperen was able to predict with over seventy percent accuracy whether Dutch junior-elite soccer players would become professional soccer players by assessing their mental characteristics. Specifically, Van Yperen assessed 65 fourteen-year-old males that attended an internationally recognized soccer academy.

Ten to 15 years later, a portion of these players became professional soccer players and it was found that three psychological factors — goal commitment, problem-centered coping behaviors, and a tendency to seek social support — could predict who would achieve professional status with seventy percent accuracy.

These results suggest that the secret to selecting athletes has been uncovered. If
players have the trifecta of psychological factors, give them a jersey. If not, show them the door.

Van Yperen, N.W. (2009). Why Some Make it and Others Do Not: Identifying Psychological Factors That Predict Career Success in Professional Adult Soccer. Sport Psychologist, 23(3), 317-329.

human resource management,organizational industrial psychology, organizational management