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26 Oct 2012 743
Young people Rapport Building and Communicating Developing Mindsets

Ways to Promote Positive Youth Development

Reflecting on published academic research, this post highlights four practical activities coaches can use to promote youth development through sport

When you read a piece of research that presents positive results you often find yourself asking what did they actually do to achieve these results? A recent article in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology provides what the authors believe is the first study to provide specific descriptions of practical activities that can promote youth development through sport.

Below are four ideas that the researchers and coaches came up with to help develop positive youth development in their coaching.

The programme took a participation approach to coach training so initiatives were created to fit the practical constraints of the environment the coaches were working in. As such they are specific to this study but they do provide some great ideas that might inspire others elsewhere.

  1. Practice with college athletes: collegiate athletes ran a practice for the youth athletes that was followed by a discussion about the importance of education. The practice and the discussion were adapted to the players’ skill and age levels, and the collegiate athletes matched the gender, ethnic, and racial make-up of the youth athletes. This made it easier for the youth to identify with the collegiate athletes and likely stimulated the question and answer period that followed.
  1. The healthy team meal: First, coaches and the research coordinator talked to the players about healthy food choices and the importance of eating balanced meals. Second, the research team and the coaches took the players to a grocery store, where players were allowed to choose and purchase food items for a pre-game meal. Third, the players, the coach, and the research coordinator met and had a team meal together. Finally, during the team meal the research coordinator and the coaches led a discussion about examples of good and bad food choices based on what the players had purchased.
  1. Co-ed practice: In this activity boys and girls practiced together. Coaches matched boys and girls teams with similar ability levels. For example, the U15 boys’ basketball team practiced with the U17 girls’ basketball team. Coaches felt that an equitable competitive level during the practice would help build competence and confidence on their physical, technical, cognitive, and tactical abilities.
  1. Hoops for Health: This fundraiser was to promote community engagement in the promotion and maintenance of active lifestyles. In this activity the youth players held a fundraiser and donated sporting equipment to a community centre that primarily assisted underprivileged youth who typically do not engage in physical activity. The players used the money to purchase sporting equipment and donated it to a community centre as a way to further promote physical activity. During the donation ceremony the youth players held a basketball workshop, supervised by their coaches, for members of the community.

At the end of the programme coaches reported an increase of knowledge and a better understanding of their players.

Participants felt that the activities promoted cohension and communication while also contributing to the development of their athletic competence, confidence, connection and character.

Related Resources

  • Youth Physical Development Model

  • How to Deliver Engaging Sessions for Young People

  • What Motivates Young People to be Active?


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