Understanding Adolescents’ Positive and Negative Developmental Experiences in Sport

in The Sport Psychologist
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  • 1 York University
  • | 2 Queen’s University
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The purpose of this study was to gain understanding of adolescents’ positive and negative developmental experiences in sport. Twenty-two purposefully sampled adolescent competitive swimmers participated in a semistructured qualitative interview. Content analysis led to the organization of meaning units into themes and categories (Patton, 2002). Athletes suggested their sport involvement facilitated many positive developmental experiences (i.e., related to challenge, meaningful adult and peer relationships, a sense of community, and other life experiences) and some negative developmental experiences (i.e., related to poor coach relationships, negative peer influences, parent pressure, and the challenging psychological environment of competitive sport). Findings underline the important roles of sport programmers, clubs, coaches, and parents in facilitating youths’ positive developmental experiences in sport, while highlighting numerous important directions for future research. Implications for coach training and practice are outlined.

Fraser-Thomas is with the School of Kinesiology and Health Science, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3J 1P3. Côté is with the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Faculty of Education, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6.

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