Taking the Next Step

Taking the next step 200

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Abstract

Taking the Next Step looks at a particular issue of player development that too often remains under-appreciated: the influence of others. In particular, it casts light on resources that relationships with others bring about and that have the capacity to affect the ability of players to develop into successful, elite athletes. To this end, it brings into the discussion the contested concept of social capital, here defined as “the ability of individuals and groups to gain resources by means of membership in social networks.” However, while research on social capital and sport tends to focus on social capital as an outcome of sport participation, this work considers the “inverse relationship” between the two. This relates, for instance, to how social resources can help or undermine the development of players, a club’s sporting achievements, or the organisational development of a sport officiating body. In other words, it looks at non-technical aspects of athlete development in football—those other “little things” that can make the difference in a player’s career or help bringing the right people together at the right time and facilitate innovation and creativity. The analysis pertains to how resources residing in networks encompassing players, their immediate social environments, and the South Australian system of players’ production (including coaches) can facilitate or hinder the players’ opportunities to take the next step in their career.