Self-evaluation of skills and performance level in youth elite soccer: are positive self-evaluations always positive?

Erik Hofseth, Tynke Toering, Geir Jordet, Andreas Ivarsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study compared youth elite soccer players’ and their coaches’ evaluations of players’ skill level, and examined how this comparison was related to players' future performance level concerning national team experience. Based on the notions of the self-serving bias, it was predicted that players who overestimated their skill level relative to their coaches’ judgment, would be characterized by a high performance level in the past and a relative low future performance level; due to relatively high levels of performance anxiety and a frequent use of self-protection strategies. Results showed that the players (N= 267, Mage = 17.6, SD = 1.1), in reference to their coach, tended to overestimate their skills. This tendency was negatively related to players’ future performance level. Specifically, when controlling for age, past performance level and current performance level, a multinomial regression analysis (X² 18, N = 238) = 76.95, p ˂ .01) revealed that the players who overestimated their skills to the largest extent (compared to players that underestimated their skills), were less likely to produce a high performance level in the future (OR = .71, 95% CI = .54 -18 .94). It seems that unrealistically positive self-evaluations can have negative effects in terms of performance development, but not through the mechanism of the self-serving bias, as measured in the current study. Nevertheless, it may be important for players to have a realistic view on their skill-level in order to progress and reach their potential.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-383
Number of pages14
JournalSports, Exercise & Performance Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • over-estimation
  • soccer
  • self-evaluation
  • psychological aspects
  • talent development


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