(continued) Stress and Burnout in Children s Competitive Sport Effective Coaching Practices for Young Athletes Role of Parents

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1 Chapter 22 The Importance of Children s Sport Psychology Why a Psychology of the Young Athlete? Why Children Participate in Sport Why Children Discontinue Participation in Sport Role of Friends in Youth Sport Stress and Burnout in Children s Competitive Sport Effective Coaching Practices for Young Athletes Role of Parents Some of the most important implications of sport psychology are found in the children s sport arena where participants are plentiful and are highly involved. Image source: So many children are involved (an estimated 47 million in the United States). Children are intensely involved in youth sport. Participation peaks at a critical developmental period in the child s life (age 12). Organized sport is not automatically beneficial; qualified competent adult leadership is needed. Children have different reasons for participating in sport (have fun improve skills get exercise be with and make new friends compete) Boys and girls have similar motives for involvement but these may vary in importance. 1

2 !" #$%&'( children average age 11.9 selected one of the following as their most important reason for playing a sport: to defeat your opponent or the other team (winning orientation) to play as well as you can (personal performance) to play fairly by the rules at all times (fair play) everyone on the team should get to play (total participation)!" #$%&'( ) Males Females Winning 13.5% 04.6% Personal Perform. 51.0% 48.3% Fair Play 24.4% 37.6% Total Participation 11.0% 09.4% Participation statistics Peak participation occurs between the ages of 10 and 13 years. For every 10 children who begin a sport season 3 to 4 quit before the start of the next season. Motives for withdrawal Major reason: Other things to do Some negative reasons (e.g. Not as good as I wanted to be ; Boredom ; Didn t like the pressure ) cited by some children Why Children Discontinue Participation in Sport The importance of perceived competence Children with low perceptions of their athletic abilities drop out or do not participate in sport whereas children with high perceptions of their competence participate and persist. Adapted by permission from D. Gould and L. Petlichkoff 1988 Participation motiveation and attrition in young athletes. In _Chaildren in sport 3rd ed. editated by F. Smoll R. Magill and M. Ash (Champaign IL: Human Kinetics)

3 Sport-specific dropouts withdraw from a particular program but enter into other sports. Sport-general dropouts withdraw from all sport participation. Sport-general dropouts are a special concern. Key Understand underlying motives for withdrawal. Summary Most of the motives children have are intrinsic (e.g. to have fun learn skills). Winning clearly is neither the only nor the most common motive for participation. Most young athletes have multiple reasons for participation not a single motive. Summary Although most children withdraw because of change of interests a significant minority discontinue for negative reasons (e.g. lack of fun pressure) Underlying the descriptive motive (e.g. fun) is the child s need to feel worthy. Strategies for Structuring Sport Situations to Meet the Needs of Young Athletes Coaches can enhance motivation by structuring environments to meet specific needs. + Implications for practice Enhance perceived competence teach young athletes to define success as exceeding their own goals not simply winning. Keep participation and withdrawal statistics. 3

4 + Implications for practice When children discontinue rigorously analyze why they are withdrawing from sport. Is the child interested in another sport? Is withdrawal permanent or temporary? Did the child have a say in the decision? What are effects on long-term welfare? ) + Companionship: spending time together Pleasant play association: enjoying being around one s friends Enhancement of self-esteem: having friends say things or take actions that boost one s self-esteem ) + Help and guidance: providing assistance in learning sport skills as well as general assistance such as in school Prosocial behavior: saying and doing things that conform to social convention such as sharing or not saying negative things Intimacy: mutual feelings of close personal bonds ) + Emotional support: expressions and feeling of concern for one another; absence of conflicts (some friends do not argue fight or disagree) Conflict resolution: ability of friends to resolve conflicts Attractive personal qualities: positive characteristics such as personality or physical features - ) + Conflict (e.g. insults arguments) Unattractive personal qualities (e.g. self-centered) Betrayal Inaccessibility (lack of opportunity to interact) ) + Key Peer relations affect motivation for physical activity. 4

5 +. Enhance peer relationships by creating motivational climates that enhance task goals and foster cooperation versus competition. Conduct drills that require small groups of players to interact which will maximize involvement. Reduce displays of social status (e.g. public picking of teams). +. In sport settings provide time for children to be with friends and to make new friends. Encourage positive peer reinforcement. Emphasize teamwork foster cohesion and emphasize the pursuit of group team goals. / / Are young athletes placed under too much stress? No the majority of young athletes are not under excessive stress (less than 10% are). Adapted from Handbook for Youth Sport Coaches with permission from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) 1900 Association Drive Reston VA / Is state anxiety heightened in young athletes? High stress (state anxiety) levels are relatively rare but affect 2.5 million 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. Key / Excessive trait anxiety does not appear to be associated with youth sport participation. Any possible explanation? 5

6 Personal Characteristics of Children at Risk for Heightened State Anxiety High trait anxiety Low self-esteem Maladaptive perfectionism Low performance expectancies relative to team Low self-performance expectations Frequent worries about failure Personal Characteristics of Children at Risk for Heightened State Anxiety Frequent worries about adult expectations and evaluation by others Less perceived fun Less satisfaction with their performance regardless of winning or losing Personal Characteristics of Children at Risk for Heightened State Anxiety Perception that participation is important to parents Outcome goal orientation and low perceived ability Defeat versus victory Children experience more state anxiety after losing than after winning. Event importance The more importance that is placed on a contest the more state anxiety that is experienced by participants. Sport type Children in individual sports experience more state anxiety than children in team sports. 6

7 0 / Burnout is a special case of sport withdrawal in which a young athlete discontinues sport involvement in response to chronic stress. Characteristics of burnout include onedimensional self-definitions and little or no control in decision making. Factors Associated With Burnout in Young Athletes Very high self- and other-imposed expectations Win-at-all-costs attitude Parental pressure Long repetitive practices with little variety Inconsistent coaching practices Factors Associated With Burnout in Young Athletes Overuse injuries from excessive practice Excessive time demands High travel demands Love from others displayed on the basis of winning and losing Perfectionism Stress and Burnout in Children s Competitive Sport Practical implications Develop confidence and constructive attitude toward mistakes. Use concrete physical strategies (e.g. stress bag to put worries in). Use fun strategies (e.g. jelly belly spaghetti toes relaxation). Stress and Burnout in Children s Competitive Sport Practical implications Use simple strategies (e.g. change channels). Vary approaches to the same exercise. Individualize approaches to the child s interests. Remain positive and optimistic. Use role models (e.g. Michael Jordan). Intensive Training and Elite Sport for Children Phases of athletic talent development Entry or initial phase Investment phase Elite performance excellence phase Excellence maintenance phase 7

8 Intensive Training and Elite Sport for Children Key findings: Most champion athletes did not start out with champion aspirations in mind. Most champion athletes are exposed to active lifestyles and play multiple sports as children. Intensive Training and Elite Sport for Children Key findings: Champions must fall in love with the sport before pursuing intense involvement. To optimize talent young athletes should not specialize in a single sport too early and parents and coaches should emphasize fun and development. Key Effective Coaching Practices for Young Athletes Children have special coaching needs different from the needs of adults. What the Research Says About Coaching Children Smith Smoll and Curtis (1979) classic research notes that a coach s instruction reinforcement and mistake-contingent instruction and encouragement correlate with a player s self-esteem motivation and positive attitudes. What the Research Says About Coaching Children Learning a positive approach to coaching results in lower player dropout rates (5% compared with 26% for untrained coaches). Implications for practice 1. Catch kids doing things right and give them plenty of praise. 2. Give praise sincerely. 3. Develop realistic expectations. 8

9 Implications for practice 4. Catch Reward efforts as much as outcome. 5. Focus on teaching and practicing skills (maximize participation in an activity). 6. Modify skills and activities so they are developmentally appropriate. Implications for practice 7. Modify rules to maximize action and participation. 8. Reward correct technique not just outcome. 9. Use a positive sandwich approach when you correct errors. Implications for practice 10. Create an environment that reduces fear of trying new skills. 11. Be enthusiastic. Different Parental Roles in Youth Sports (Fredericks & Eccles 2004) Socializer Role model Interpreter of child s sport experience Are other parents pushing their kids to have high hopes? Image source: Research Findings on Parental Roles 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 that players experience. The goal orientations of parent and child are significantly related. Parents can play a highly positive or a highly negative role in the youth sport experience. ) Keys Educate parents about their responsibilities and the sport parent code of conduct. Appreciate the tricky business of parental support. 9

10 )1 1. Encourage your children to play sports but don t pressure them. Let your child choose to play and quit if she or he wants. 2. Understand what your child wants from sport and provide a supportive atmosphere for achieving those goals. )1 3. Set limits on your child s participation in sport. Determine when your child is physically and emotionally ready to play and to ensure that conditions are safe. 4. Make sure the coach is qualified to guide your child through the sport experience. )1 5. Keep winning in perspective and help your child do the same. 6. Help your child set realistic performance goals. 7. Help your child understand the valuable lessons sport can teach. 8. Help your child meet his or her responsibilities to the team and coach. 9. Discipline your child appropriately when necessary. )1 10. Turn your child over to the coach at practices and games don t meddle or coach from the stands. 11. Supply the coach with information regarding any allergies or special health conditions your child has. Make sure your child takes any necessary medication to games and practices. 1. Remain in the spectator area during games. 2. Don t advise the coach on how to coach. 3. Don t make derogatory comments to coaches officials or parents of either team. 4. Don t try to coach your child during the contest. 5. Don t drink alcohol at contests or come to a contest having drunk alcohol. 6. Cheer for your child s team. 7. Show interest enthusiasm and support for your child. 8. Be in control of your emotions. 9. Help when asked by coaches or officials. 10. Thank coaches officials and other volunteers who conduct the event. 10

11 2 Comments? 11

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