Prospective pilot study of mood in highly specialized youth male soccer athletes




Mattioli, Bianca
Mattioli, Bianca

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



<b>Context:</b> Sport specialization rates have risen among athletes leading to an increase in injury rates at younger age; however, the research investigating the effects of sport specialization on mental health is lacking. <b>Objective:</b> To examine the changes in mood scores among highly specialized youth soccer players throughout one season and explore potential factors contributing to their stress and anxiety levels. <b>Design:</b> Prospective repeated-measures pilot study. <b>Setting:</b> Survey and a Major League Soccer (MLS) Next Academy. <b>Patients or Other Participants:</b> From one MLS Next Academy team, 16 players and 15 parents participated. <b>Main Outcome Measures:</b> Stress (Perceived Stress Scale 4, PSS-4) and anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7, GAD-7) scores were collected from all participants at baseline, midseason, and postseason to determine change scores over time. Information about win-loss records, perceived pressure, leadership, and team cohesion metrics were also collected from the players to investigate additional factors that may have altered their mood states. <b>Results:</b> Over the course of the season, PSS-4 and GAD-7 change scores for athletes (F(2,22)=2.26, P=0.13) (F(2,22)=0.77, P=0.48) and parents (F(2,25)=0.661, P=0.525) (F(2,25)=0.98, P=0.39) were not statistically different, respectively. All other comparisons were also not significant (P > 0.05). <b>Conclusion:</b> Stress and anxiety scores remained consistently low throughout the season for both athlete and parents. There was no significant change in either of the mood scores in either group independently of each other over the course of the season. Overall, both athlete and parent average scores for the PSS-4 and GAD-7 were low and were lower in the current study than reported in previous studies. Nonetheless, some athletes did present with elevated scores at different timepoints. This indicates that further research needs to be done to elaborate on the current study’s findings such as investigating mood scores of athlete’s teachers and coaches, asking athletes perceive pressure on themselves, and/or including GPS data for objective workload.



PSS-4, Stress, GAD-7, Anxiety, Mental health, Youth sport


Mattioli, B. (2022). <i>Prospective pilot study of mood in highly specialized youth male soccer athletes</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


Rights Holder

Rights License

Rights URI