Contextual factors influencing decision making: Perceptions of professional soccer players

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Abstract

Objectives:

This study sought to explore highly-skilled soccer players' perceptions of how contextual factors influence their decision making during matches.

Design:

A qualitative design was used in which individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight professional male soccer players aged between 18 and 22 years.

Method:

An interview schedule was designed to explore the perceived influence of a range of situational factors on decision making during matches. The interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. The data were analysed via an inductive thematic analysis.

Results:

Seven themes were identified from the data. The four dynamic contextual themes were: (a) personal performance, (b) score status, (c) momentum, and (d) external/coach instructions. The three static contextual themes were: (a) match importance, (b) personal pressures, and (c) preparation.

Conclusions:

The results highlight the importance of considering the dynamic and static context within which highly-skilled soccer players make decisions.

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