Development and initial validation of an instrument to measure engagement in purposeful practice among youth soccer athletes


Accumulating a high volume of practice is critical to success in sport. Practice that is designed and assessed by an instructor, requires effort and concentration, and is specific to improving performance is termed deliberate practice. Purposeful practice is a broader concept which includes practice that is not necessarily coach-determined, nor necessarily individualised, likely better characterising sport practice experiences especially in team settings. Despite debate regarding definitions, engaging in quality practice that shows characteristics of deliberate practice is consistently related to sport expertise. Based on definitions of quality practice from motor learning and expertise development literature (related to the challenge point framework and deliberate practice theory), we developed the Challenge, Effort and Purposeful Practice (CEPP) instrument to assess whether athletes are engaging in good quality practice. Subscales of this instrument measured the athlete's goal-directed efforts to seek improvement, use of feedback and instruction, mental representations, repetition, effort and concentration during practice, as well as awareness and purpose before and after practice engagement. Youth (U14-U18 yr) soccer athletes (N = 44 female), across varying levels of competitive play, completed the CEPP. This was completed alongside a practice history survey and questionnaires assessing grit, competitiveness, and motivation. There was evidence for internal consistency of the subscales and construct validity as determined through mostly moderate correlations with competition-level, practice amounts, and questionnaire measures. Analyses and data collection is ongoing. We aim to develop this instrument as a reliable and valid measure of what individuals do when they practice, assessing practice designed to improve performance.

Acknowledgments: This research was supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada grant awarded to NJH.