Perception of Affordances for Dribbling in Soccer: Exploring Children as Architects of Skill Development Opportunity

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    This study examined affordance perception for soccer dribbling using a mixed-methods approach in male grassroots soccer players. We examined how children construct and perceive skills practices for dribbling in soccer. Fourteen boys aged 10–11 years (Mean ± SD = 10.8 ± 0.4 years) who were regularly engaged in grassroots soccer participated in the present study. Children were provided with ten soccer cones and asked to create their own soccer dribbling pattern that would enable them to maximise the number of touches with a football and then dribble the ball in the pattern they had created for a 1 min period. Children were interviewed to explore their perception of affordances for soccer dribbling. The test of gross motor development-3 was used to assess fundamental movement skills (FMS), and the UGent soccer dribbling test was used to assess soccer dribbling skills. Children self-rated their own ability for soccer dribbling, as did their coaches. Pearson’s correlations were employed to examine the associations between quantitative variables, and thematic analysis was used to explore qualitative data. Results of the present study suggest that those children who created patterns with less space between cones accrued more touches of the football in their dribbling task (r = −0.671, p = 0.03). Children with a higher perception of their own dribbling ability had higher scores for FMS (r = 0.604, p = 0.049). Those children who scored better in actual soccer dribbling had higher scores for FMS (r = −0.746, p = 0.012) and were rated as better dribblers by their coaches (r = −0.67, p = 0.03). Interview data suggest a feedback loop between perception of ability and actual ability, which influenced the dribbling patterns that were created. This suggests that dribbling performance is scaled to the (perceived) action capabilities of the children, and children can act as architects in their own skill development
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number99
    Number of pages10
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2022

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright: © 2022 by the authors.
    Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
    This article is an open access article
    distributed under the terms and
    conditions of the Creative Commons
    Attribution (CC BY) license (https://


    • grassroots
    • mixed methods
    • motor competence
    • motor skill
    • talent development
    • youth

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
    • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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