The Importance of Children’s Sport Psychology. Some of the most important implications of sport psychology are found in the children’s arena, where participants are plentiful and highly involved. Why a Psychology of the Young Athlete.
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Some of the most important implications of sport psychology are found in the children’s arena, where participants are plentiful and highly involved.
So many children are involved (an estimated 45 million in the United States).
Children are intensely involved in youth sports.
Participation peaks at a critical developmental period in the child’s life (approx. ages 10-13).
Organized sport is not automatically beneficial; qualified, competent adult leadership is needed.
Physical benefits of participation
Psychological benefits of participation (e.g., character dev’t: sport = life)
Social benefits of participation
(e.g., SUPER PROGRAMS…First Tee…)
Other preventive effects: teen pregnancy… J D….
DISCIPLINE: Ski racing, Pipe, and Big MountainAge: 8Date of Birth October 15, 1999Home Ski Area: Aspen, all four mountainsBorn and raised in Aspen, Colorado
ACCOMPLISHMENTSRace 2006 Nastar National Champion – 5-6 year olds2006 X-Games - Men's Ski Super Pipe Forerunner 2005 X-Games - Men's Ski Super Pipe Forerunner 2004 Nastar National Champion, Lowest handicap ever for 1-4 year old2004 Champion - Vogue takes Aspen Ski Race -18 and under
BIG MOUNTAINNamed "Best Skier" by Aspen Magazine in annual Best of Aspen issue. Youngest person to hike and ski Highland's Bowl (4 years, 5 months)Youngest athlete on Team Aspen Snowmass by 10 yearsConsistently skis double black diamond runs throughout Aspen-Snowmass
What do you love about your sport?
" I love the feeling and the world's best ski mountains are only a short bike ride from home"What do you do when you're not on the snow?“I play soccer, golf, and hockey. I like to run races (3-5 miles) and hike up Aspen Mountain. I spend time on my trampoline whenever I can and practice what I have learned at gymnastics. I love my cats and dogs.”
Bridger Gile learned to ski when he was 2. Now, although he’s only in the first grade, he has already won two Nastar championships.
He has appeared in two of Warren Miller’s annual ski films as well as an action sports video. He is sponsored by several ski gear and apparel companies and is a member of Team Aspen/Snowmass, made up of the resort’s top skiers and snowboarders. In 2004 and 2006, he was a national champion in Nastar, the longtime recreational race program, and last week he made the precompetition run on the men’s ski superpipe course at the ESPN Winter X Games, the third straight year he’d
been the forerunner. Bridger Gile is 7 years old.
“You encounter a handful of kids like him in a lifetime,” said Sam von Trapp, an Aspen ski instructor (yes, a member of that von Trapp family) who coached Bridger in the pipe before last year’s X Games. “Certain people just have a feel for things. Bridger understands intuitively what works well, which is cool in skiing because skiing is a counterintuitive sport. He just has the touch.”
With long blond hair cascading from under his helmet and near-perfect ski form, Bridger is instantly recognizable on the slopes of Aspen. He learned to ski at 2, not atypical for a mountain-town youngster, especially one who lives near four ski areas. But his ability to carve his turns, a skill the average skier can spend many vacations trying to master, quickly set him apart. His parents attribute that grasp of technique, in part, to his knack for emulating images of ski racers.
In the house “we put pictures at his eye level, and we’d be watching ski racing a lot on TV,” said Rob Gile, Bridger’s father. “It’s unbelievable because he just watches stuff and then does it.”
“Kids are real visual learners, and we tapped into that,” added Lisa Gonzalez-Gile, Bridger’s mother. “I would hold him on a harness, and his dad, who is a beautiful skier, would be in front. I have pictures of him carving when he was 3 — he was barely out of diapers.”
Burnout is a special case of sport withdrawal in which a young athlete discontinues sport involvement in response to chronic stress.
Are young athletes placed under too much stress?
No, the vast majority of young athletes are not under excessive stress (less than 10% are).
Very high self- and other-imposed expectations
Long repetitive practices with little variety
Inconsistent coaching practices
Overuse injuries from excessive practice
Excessive time demands
High travel demands
Love from others displayed on the basis of winning and losing
Is state anxiety heightened in young athletes?
High stress (state anxiety) levels are relatively rare, but affect many children in specific situations.
Stress among elite junior competitors is caused by fear of failure and feelings of inadequacy.
Children at risk for heightened state anxiety exhibit certain personal characteristics.
High trait anxiety
Low performance expectancies relative to team
Low self-performance expectations
Frequent worries about failure
Frequent worries about adult expectations and evaluation by others
Less perceived fun
Less satisfaction with their performance, regardless of winning or losing
Perceived participation as important to parents
Outcome goal orientation and low perceived ability
Implications for Practice
When children discontinue, rigorously analyze why they are withdrawing from sport.
– Interest in another sport?
– Withdrawal permanent or temporary?
– Did the child have a say in the decision?
– Effects on long-term welfare?
Parental enjoyment of physical activity is related to parental encouragement and a child’s perceived competence and participation.
Parental support buffers the adverse stressful effects youth players experience.
The goal orientations of parent and child are significantly related.
Parents can play a highly positive or a highly negative role in youth sport experience.
Educate parents about sport-parent responsibilities and the sport-parent code of conduct.
Encourage your children to play sports, but don’t pressure them. Let your child choose to play—and quit—if she or he wants.
Understand what your child wants from sport and provide a supportive atmosphere for achieving those goals.
Set limits on your child’s participation in sport. You need to determine when your child is physically and emotionally ready to play and to ensure that that conditions for playing are safe.
Make sure the coach is qualified to guide your child through the sport experience.
Keep winning in perspective, and help your child do the same.
Help your child set realistic performance goals.
Help your child understand the valuable lessons sports can teach.
Help your child meet his or her responsibilities to the team and the coach.
Discipline your child appropriately when necessary.
Turn your child over to the coach at practices and games—don’t meddle or coach from the stands.
Supply the coach with informationregarding any allergies or special health conditions your child has. Make sure your child takes any necessary medications to games and practices.
Children have special coaching needs, different from the needs of adults.
Smith et al. (1979) classic research on kids and coaches in LL B-ball:
Learning a positive approach to coaching results in lower player-dropout rates (5% compared with 26% for untrained coaches).
Catch kids doing things right and give them plenty of praise.
Give praise sincerely.
Develop realistic expectations.
Reward effort as much as outcome.
Focus on teaching and practicing skills (maximize participation and activity).
Modify skills and activities to be developmentally appropriate.
Modify rules to maximize action and participation.
Reward correct technique, not just outcome.
Use a positive “sandwich” approach when you correct errors.
Create an environment that reduces fear of trying new skills.
Enhance perceived competence—teach young athletes to view success as exceeding their own goals, not merely as winning
The loser is fearful of failure; the winner is confident of victory.
The loser magnifies misfortunes; the winner creates opportunities.
The loser worships conformity; the winner expresses originality.Winners and Losers
The loser resists change; the winner dares to be different.
The loser has a convenient excuse; the winner has a compelling purpose.
The loser believes the worst; the winner expects the best.Winners and Losers