Figure Skating: A Different Kind of Youth Sport

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Lori F. Cummins University of Notre Dame

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Figure skating is a distinct youth sport often overlooked in the sport psychology literature. This paper reviews the literature to substantiate how figure skating presents challenges for adaptation and development not shared by other sports. The possible implications of figure skating on identity and self-worth are considered, as is the role of coaches in the figure skating environment and how they can potentially foster or hinder their athletes’ positive psychological development. In this regard, the possible application of parenting style theories is discussed in the context of figure skating coaches. Finally, Smith, Smoll, and Curtis’s (1979) Coach Effectiveness Training program is considered as a potential intervention program to promote healthy psychological development for young figure skaters.

Lori Cummins is with the Department of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame. E-mail:

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