Training for the future? The relation between future time perspective and sport expertise


Future time perspective refers to the extent to which individuals consider the future when making decisions about the present (Husman & Shell, 2008). Because development of expertise requires engaging in large amounts of effortful practice (Ericsson et al., 1993) designed to reach goals at a future point in time (Côté, Baker & Abernethy, 2003), we examined whether future time perspective contributes to time spent in sport practice and achieved success. Competitive athletes (n = 363; Mage = 30.7, SD = 12.5; 49% male) from various team and individual sports completed two subscales of Husman and Shell's (2008) Future Time Perspective Scale and reported their weekly structured practice amounts and highest competitive level. An exploratory structural equation model with value (7 items) and connectedness (7 items) subscales had adequate fit: ?2(64) = 143.35, p < .001; RMSEA = .051 [.040-.062]; CFI = .924; TLI = .891. Analyses of variance demonstrated no significant differences between four competitive groups (city/regional, provincial, national, international) for value, F(3, 346) = 0.16, p = .90, or connectedness, F(3, 350) = 0.43, p = .56. No significant correlations were demonstrated between weekly structured practice amount and either value (r = .03) or connectedness (r = -.03). These results suggest that cross-sectional self-report of valuing long-term goals and connecting current actions to future goals do not associate with engaging in more practice, nor to achieving higher levels of sport skill. We consider methodological and conceptual reasons for these findings.

Acknowledgments: This work was supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Development Grant 430-2015-00904 (Bradley W. Young, PI).