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CHILDREN & SPORT PSYCHOLOGY. Eileen Wolfe University of West Florida. IMPORTANCE OF YOUTH SPORTS. Youth sports act as a microcosm of society Socialization Problem solving Leadership Discipline Cooperation/teamwork Dealing with adversity Overcoming fear Facing challenges

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children sport psychology


Eileen Wolfe

University of West Florida

importance of youth sports
  • Youth sports act as a microcosm of society
    • Socialization
    • Problem solving
    • Leadership
    • Discipline
    • Cooperation/teamwork
    • Dealing with adversity
    • Overcoming fear
    • Facing challenges
    • Stress/arousal regulation
    • Healthy lifestyle
    • Coordination
    • Self-efficacy
  • Nearly 45 million youth participate in sports every year in U.S.
    • Represents 66% of all out-of-school activities for youth (Ewing & Seefeldt, 2002)
  • #1 reason for involvement is “To have fun”
    • Other main reasons: improve skills, get in shape, be with friends (Ewing & Seefeldt, 1996)
  • For every 10 youth that begin sport, 3 to 4 discontinue by next season (Gould & Petlichkiff, 1988)
  • 50% of youth dropout of sport involvement by age 12
    • 70% dropout by age 14 (University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, 1981-1997)
    • In any given year, 3 to 4 out of 10 will drop out before the next season.
  • Reasons? _____________________________
personal characteristics of children at risk for heightened competitive state anxiety
Personal Characteristics of Children at Risk for Heightened COMPETITIVE State Anxiety
  • Frequent worries about adult expectations and evaluation by others
  • Fear of failure
  • Less perceived fun
  • Less satisfaction with their performance, regardless of winning or losing
  • Perception that participation is important to parents
  • Outcome goal orientation and low perceived ability
  • Maladaptive Perfectionism
  • Proper interventions can decrease dropout rates and increase positive developmental outcomes
  • 1)Positive reinforcement, 2)technical instruction, and 3) mistake-contingent encouragement from adults most important interventions
    • Focus on increasing desirable behaviors by rewarding
    • Coaches and parents can be trained
understanding the child athlete
Understanding the child athlete
  • Need continuous and immediate reinforcement: positive approach
  • Not all want to become “Elite”
  • Stages of Athlete Development

(Côté, 1999; Côté, Lidor, & Hackfort, 2009)

    • Sampling years
    • Specializing years
    • Investment years
    • Recreational years
sampling years
  • Majority of youth in this stage
  • Characterized by “deliberate play”
  • Kids voluntarily try variety of sports
  • Positive outcomes: Form opinions on sports, develop fundamental motor skills, socialize, learn to work with others
  • Essential building block of sport development
  • Can go into specializing or recreational
specializing years
Specializing Years
  • Characterized by a balance between deliberate play and deliberate practice
  • Kids begin to focus on one or two sports that they enjoy
  • Skills such as problem solving, imagery, and goal-setting, along with socialization, self-concept, and self-esteem development (Chase & Drummer, 1992; Harter, 1978)
  • Should be challenging, yet fun!
  • Can go into investment or recreational
investment years
  • Characterized by deliberate practice
  • Investment of training time, money, focus
    • Development of elite athletes
  • Win-at-all cost focus on performance and competition
  • Can teach leadership, responsibility, commitment, stress regulation
recreation years
Recreation years
  • Characterized by enjoyment and focus on healthy lifestyle, socialization
    • Not place for overly competitive level of play
  • Reason many join community sports rather than school-sponsored sports
    • Less pressure
    • Everyone given equal opportunity
  • More likely to experience less negative effects
    • However, less likely to develop PST’s for stress regulation
understanding the youth sport coach
Understanding the youth sport coach
  • Majority are untrained volunteers
    • Most coach how they were coached
    • Trained coaches have only 5% dropout rate compared to untrained at 26% (Barnett, Smoll, & Smith, 1992)
  • Majority use combination of negative and positive approach
    • Should follow 5:1 RULE
    • Phil Jackson vs. Bobby Knight
    • Positive Coaching Alliance
coaching youth sports
Coaching youth sports
  • Understand individual athlete goals
  • Model Sportsmanship
    • Increases peer-to-peer positive reinforcement
    • ROOTS: Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates, Self
  • Practice PST’s to regulate own stress/arousal
    • Imagery, self-talk, relaxation/breathing
  • Use positive, sincere feedback
    • Sandwich Approach: Positive statement, Future-oriented instruction, compliment
  • Smith, Smoll, Curtis (1979) CBAS Study
    • Barnett, Smoll, & Smith (1992) follow-up
understanding youth sport parents
Understanding youth sport parents
  • Single most important thing kids need from parents: Support
      • Emotional
      • Informational
      • Companionship
      • Tangible
  • Continuum from underinvolved to overinvolved parents
    • The healthiest development of the child athlete takes place when the parent shows support and respect for the child athlete, teammates, coaches, officials, fans, and opponents alike, through a moderate level of involvement.
parents gone wild
Parents gone wild
  • “The Overinvolved Parent”
  • Examples
educating parents
  • Parents strongly influence their child’s goals (Duda & Hom, 1993) and perceived competence (Brustad, 1993).
  • May not realize the impact of their influence
  • May not know how to communicate effectively with coaches and the child
  • Parent Orientation Meetings
    • Parent Responsibilities and Code of Conduct (American Sport Education Program, 1994)
    • Can use as opportunity to tackle “Myths” (pg.530-531)
  • Which of the following is best characterized by “deliberate practice” in athlete development?
    • Sampling stage
    • Specializing stage
    • Investment stage
    • Reinforcement stage
    • None of the above
  • The stage of athlete development in which an athlete invests all of their resources into one sport is known as the sampling stage.

a. True

b. False

  • According to the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, approximately what percentage of athletes dropout of youth sports by the age of 14?
    • 20%
    • 30%
    • 50%
    • 70%
    • None of the above
  • Reinforcement for young athletes should be __________ and __________________?
    • Continuous and delayed
    • Continuous and immediate
    • Intermittent and delayed
    • Intermittent and immediate
    • None of the above
  • Feedback should be task oriented (not outcome oriented) and self-comparing (not peer comparing)
  • Which of the following should coaches use to deal with stresses of coaching and to be a good role model?
    • Self-talk
    • Relaxation/Breathing techniques
    • Imagery
    • All of the above
    • None of the above
  • True or False: Bobby Knight is a spokesperson for the Positive Coaching Alliance and is displays a considerate coaching style.
    • True
    • False
  • According to Youth sport coaches should follow the 2:1 Rule by giving 2 positive feedbacks to every 1 negative feedback.
    • True
    • False
final thoughts

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