Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Susan Panichelli-Mindel, PhD

Second Advisor

Michelle Lent, PhD

Third Advisor

April Perrymore, PhD


The psychosocial and physical benefits of organized sports participation for school-aged children, collegiate athletes, and professional athletes is well understood and recognized in the literature; however, less is known about the possible benefits of sport participation for preschool-aged children. The objective of the study was to examine whether children’s involvement in an organized team sport program facilitated their gross motor, soccer skill, and prosocial development, as well as their soccer experiences. This study examined participants between the ages of 1.5 and 4.5 years old, who were first time participants of a soccer program. To examine the research questions, a paired samples ttest and several multiple and simple linear regressions were conducted. Caregivers of participants (N = 134) completed demographic questionnaires. A pretest measure was completed by caregivers to assess children’s prosocial behaviors. The coaches of participants completed pretest measures to examine participants’ gross motor and soccer skills. Caregivers and coaches completed the posttest measures and an additional measure that assessed the children’s soccer experiences. Results showed that prosocial behaviors significantly improved from baseline to week 8, children who attended more sessions demonstrated a greater increase in their prosocial behaviors and soccer skills, soccer skills increased significantly from baseline to 8 weeks, and children who had positive experiences at soccer exhibited greater improvements in their prosocial behaviors and soccer skill acquisition. Clinical implications and future directions are discussed.