An Exploration of Substitutes' Experiences in Football

  • Bernadette Woods

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The aims of this thesis were to investigate the substitute role in football and understand players' psychological responses to becoming a substitute player. This was achieved in three stages, firstly by completing a preliminary exploratory study uncovering experiences and emotions pertinent to substitute players and secondly by investigating factors from study 1 which appeared to be most important. Finally, a longitudinal intervention study was carried out to examine the effects of cognitive intervention strategies on negative emotional responses that were identified in studies 1 and 2. In study 1 semi-structured interviews were carried out with professional and semi-professional football players (17 males, 3 females) to develop a detailed understanding of the substitute experience and to establish if substitutes experienced elevated and debilitative competitive anxiety prior to performance. Results revealed that substitutes were exposed to various organisational stressors prior to performing (e.g., being inactive, experiencing a restricted warm up/physical preparation) and competitive stressors once substituted on to play (e.g., high paced game). Substitutes also reported experiencing negative mood, self-presentation concerns, reduced perceived control, elevated perceived threat, reduced coach communication and elevated competitive anxiety prior to competition. These results provided the basis for studies 2, 3 and 4. Study 2 investigated mood, self-presentation concerns and competitive state anxiety in substitute and starter players. Participants were 192 amateur and collegiate football players (34 males and 158 females) consisting of 96 starter and 96 substitute players. Participants completed questionnaires assessing mood (BRUMS: Terry Lane, Lane, & Keohane, 1999; 2003), self-presentation concerns (SPSQ: Wilson & Eklund, 1998) and competitive anxiety (Modified CSAI-2: Martens, Vealey & Burton, 1990a) 1 hour prior to competition. Results revealed that substitutes experienced significantly more anger, depression, concerns about physical appearance and interpreted self-confidence as being significantly more facilitative than starter players. Thus, indicating that substitute and starter players experience different mood state and self-confidence profiles but not self-presentation concerns or competitive anxiety before competition. Study 3 investigated the impact that playing status had on the coach-substitute relationship. Two coach-substitute dyads were investigated from a male semi-professional team (1 male coach, and 2 male substitute players), and two coach-substitute dyads were investigated from a female amateur team (1 female coach and 2 female substitute players). Results confirmed findings from study 1 that coaches and substitutes experienced reduced shared interaction and communication. In addition, coaches and substitute players shared thoughts and behaviours that characterise a negative coach-athlete relationship. Specifically there was evidence to support reduced closeness, reduced shared understanding, reduced commitment and negative behaviours between coaches and substitutes. Finally, study 4 consisted of a longitudinal design using time series analysis to examine the effects of three cognitive intervention strategies (goal setting, self-talk and pre-performance routines) on mood, self-presentation and competitive anxiety in substitute players. Participants were four female football players who completed the BRUMS, SPSQ and Modified CSAI-2 questionnaires each time they were a substitute player both before and after the intervention period. Results showed that substitutes experienced more positive thoughts and a general improving trend for anxiety (CSAI-2), mood (BRUMS) and self-presentation concerns (SPSQ) following the intervention period. In conclusion, results from this thesis indicate that becoming a substitute player can be stressful, resulting in negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviours as well as a debilitative coach-substitute relationship. However, more research is needed to explore this phenomenon further
    Date of Award10 Mar 2008
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Aberystwyth University
    SupervisorJonathan Henry Doust (Supervisor) & Joanne Hudson (Supervisor)

    Cite this