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Developmentally based theories in the social-psychology field emphasize the important role that significant adults play in relation to children’s psychosocial health and well-being. In particular, these theories suggest that the responses adults provide to children in reaction to their performance attempts may affect the children’s own perceptions and evaluations of their competencies, as well as their overall self-worth. In the youth sport setting, coaches may be the main providers of performance-related feedback. The purpose of this paper was to use current research and theory to identify and discuss 4 dimensions of coaches’ feedback that are relevant to the growth and development of young athletes: content, delivery, degree of growth orientation, and extent of stereotyping. The paper ends with recommendations for future research on the topic, with emphasis on examining developmental transitions and why coaches give feedback in particular ways.
The author is with the Dept. of Kinesiology and Health, Miami University, Oxford, OH.