Social and psychological factors of influence on athletic progress of gifted students in non-sporting academic disciplines


PhD, Associate Professor O.V. Shatunova1
PhD, Associate Professor E.E. Merzon1
Yelabuga branch of Kazan Federal University, Yelabuga

Keywords: aptitude for sports, social and psychological factors of influence on sport progress.

Background. The national vocational and higher education systems have given a high priority to the initiatives to support and facilitate progress of sports-gifted university students for the last decades. The national interest in the sporting initiatives is dictated by the fact that both amateur and professional sports are increasingly popular and influential the world over for the reason that they provide an appealing alternative to many bad habits and addictions that young people are often exposed to and give the way to control and improve the national health situation [1]. The higher are the health and sporting standards of the national university population, the higher is the wealth and power of the nation on the whole; with this idea clearly underlined in the Russian government regulations for the last few years. Thus, the Concept of the National Talents Finding and Promotion System approved in 2012 makes provisions for an efficient educational system to train, educate and advance gifts of every child and young person for the individual and collective progress and success.

It is also important that the academic sport system helps cultivate a variety of positive life values and success motivations and effectively prevents bad habits and addictions. Recent study reports, however, show the interest in the academic physical training service and sports among the students majoring in non-sporting academic disciplines [2] being quite low versus their sporting peers [3].

Gift for sports is interpreted herein as a special combination of highly developed individual motor/ functional/ mental qualities critical for progress and success in a specific sport discipline [5]. social and psychological factors are the most important factors of influence on the gifted athlete’s progress. For the study purposes we consider them as a combined factor that integrates a variety of internal and internal sub-factors of influence on the individual progress of a gifted student. The external sub-factors are dominated by the environmental, educational and family ones; and the external by the sport motivations and genetically determined abilities; albeit it should be emphasized that the genetic/hereditary factors shall be viewed only as a prerequisite for success in sports [6, 7].

Objective of the study was to analyze the social and psychological factors of influence on the athletic progress of the gifted students majoring in non-sporting disciplines.

Methods and structure of the study. Subject to a questionnaire survey under the study were the 19-23 year-old students (n=78) of Yelabuga branch of Kazan Federal University (KFU) majoring in 44.03.01 Pedagogical Education (Technology and Advanced Education course); 44.03.04 Vocational Education (Design and Applied Arts); and 23.03.01 Transportation Process Technologies (Vehicle Operation course) disciplines. The sample was split up into Group C (n=32, 41% of the sample) composed of sporting students (doing sports regularly and having some sport accomplishments); and Group H (n=46, 59% of the sample) made of non-sporting (or practicing sports on an irregular basis) students. It should be mentioned that Group C students were all gifted in sports as verified by their competitive accomplishments including prizes won in interuniversity/ regional/ national/ international sport events. Most popular academic sports reported by the sample include football, ice hockey, volleyball, basketball, powerlifting, weightlifting, wrestling, swimming and chess. It should be noted that this sport list is determined not only by the individual preferences of the sample but also the range of the academic sport services currently offered at Yelabuga Institute of Kazan Federal University (KFU); experienced coaching service for the sport groups [4]; and the municipal sport infrastructure (gyms, sport centers and playgrounds) available in Yelabuga town for different physical training programs and sports.

Study results and discussion. Having asked for the reasons for the Group H disincentives for sports, we obtained the following responses: no time (12.5% of the group); no coach (6.3%); no motivation (12.5%); gym is too far from home (12.5%); no willpower (6.3%); health limitations (6.3%); sports come in conflict with education (6.3%); and 28.1% were uncertain on the point. This means that the students’ disincentives are dominated by the low if any motivations for the academic sports. And it is rather worrying that the low-motivated students will soon come into the school educational system to train children. As long as the teachers themselves are unmotivated for physical education, progress and sports, they can unlikely be successful in motivating children and adolescents for sports and, hence, no improvements may be expected in the national health standards and healthy lifestyles in the nearest future.

Group C gave the following responses to the question “What support if any do you have from your families in your sports practices?”: only moral support (21.9% of the group); only financial support (9.4%); full support (56.3%); and no support (12.4%). These data show the need for the work with families being put on a more efficient basis to secure a good family support for the gifted and potentially successful children. Regretfully, families and other close relatives are not always interested in the children’s progress in their chosen sports. They tend to believe that sports may come in conflict with academic studies being quite often skeptical about the children’s devotion to sports and physical education and unsupportive of their competitive accomplishments. However, moral, practical and financial support from families is indispensable for the students’ progress in sports, active and effective training process and competitive successes, as confessed by the students polled.

Furthermore, Group C was surveyed on the coach’s contribution to their competitive accomplishments, with the responses ranked as follows: dominant contribution (28.1% of the group); high contribution (34.4%); moderate (21.9%); low (3.1%); and 12.5% were uncertain on the point. These data show that the coaching service design for the gifted students shall be particularly sensitive and responsible since the gifted athletes give a high priority to the coaching service quality. In opinions of the students, a coach shall be highly interested in the trainees’ competitive progress, motivate them for progress and accomplishments, and design and manage the training process in such a way so as to avoid any detriment to the academic education.

Conclusion. The questionnaire survey of the students majoring in the non-sporting academic disciplines showed that the relevant socio-psychological (internal and external) factors need to be taken into account in the academic sport service design, with the progress facilitating environment being created to motivate them for academic sports and help realize their natural gifts for sports. The socio-psychological factors of positive influence on the gifted sporting students are dominated by the family-related and educational (coaching service) factors. The survey data and analysis showed these factors being of the greatest influence on the students’ motivations for the training process, competitive accomplishments and healthy lifestyles on the whole, with 93.8% of the gifted respondents giving the top rank to their family support for the sport progress; and 62.5% to the coach’s contribution. The sport progress facilitating environment means accessible sport gyms, high-quality and versatile coaching services, prudent education, training and competitive process design to avoid any detriment to the academic studies, with due support from the faculty.


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The study was designed to analyze the social and psychological factors of influence on the athletic progress of gifted students majoring in non-sporting (unrelated directly to physical education and sports) academic disciplines. Subject to a questionnaire survey were students of Yelabuga Institute of Kazan Federal University (KFU). The survey data showed the family- and education- related factors being of the highest effect on the students’ sport motivations considered among the key indicators of the individual sport gifts. The survey showed 93.8% of the gifted respondents highly ranking their family contributions to their sport progress; and 62.5% appreciating the coach’s contribution. Furthermore, the survey found that only 40% of the gifted students majoring in non-sporting academic disciplines go in for sports on a habitual basis; and the alarming aspect of this finding is that many of them will serve as teachers and instructors expected to motivate their trainees for healthy lifestyle and thereby improve the public health standards on the whole. The study data and analyses demonstrate the need for an academic sports-facilitating environment being established at universities with due consideration for the social and psychological factors of influence on the athletic progress of both gifted and other students in the study period.