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  • Author: Alan L. Smith x
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Alan L. Smith

In observing others and participating in social exchanges, people learn about aspects of physical activity, become inspired or discouraged to be active, and are afforded physical activity and other choices that are pursued with varying degrees of effort and persistence. With respect to children and adolescents, peers are uniquely situated social agents that we could more intensively study and leverage to the benefit of understanding and promoting physical activity. The author presents a case for expanding peer-focused physical activity research. He overviews how peers can both facilitate and undermine physical activity motivation (i.e., through desire for affiliation, social comparison, and social rejection) and how peers express structure (i.e., flocking) in ways that may offer paths to successful physical activity promotion. He then presents knowledge gaps and critical conceptual and methodological considerations that must be addressed to advance scientific understanding and peer-focused physical-activity-promotion efforts.

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Alan L. Smith, Karl Erickson, and Leapetswe Malete

Youth sport research has expanded considerably since the founding of the Michigan State University Institute for the Study of Youth Sports in 1978. This research has resulted in meaningful advancements in knowledge and proved enormously valuable in both safeguarding athlete well-being and fostering positive sport experiences. There are still knowledge gaps in the scholarly literature that have important implications for youth sport participants and programs. Hopefully, the quantity and quality of the scholarly literature on youth sport will continue to expand in response to broader societal changes and scientific advances. This paper addresses the future of youth sport scholarship, focusing on 3 selected areas of promise. The first pertains to positive youth development work, including efforts tied to fostering economic opportunity among young people. The second pertains to youth sport as a domain for addressing public health, an emerging area with respect to physical activity promotion, injury surveillance, physical well-being, and mental health. Finally, the paper addresses implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for youth sport and how this might shape scholarship over the coming decades. Pursuing these areas of research while attending to important opportunities for and challenges to the promotion of developmentally appropriate youth sport experiences is expected to meaningfully contribute to knowledge and, ultimately, the well-being of young athletes.

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Jennifer L. Gay, Eva V. Monsma, Alan L. Smith, J.D. DeFreese, and Toni Torres-McGehee

Growth and maturation may impact adolescent behavior and development of psychological disorders. Currently age at menarche is used as the primary marker of maturation, even though it occurs later than other indicators of growth such as peak height velocity (PHV). Maturity offset predicting age at PHV has not been validated in diverse samples. Anthropometric measures and self-reported age at menarche were obtained for 212 female athletes ages 11 to 16 years (M = 13.25). Shared variance between menarcheal age and estimated age at PHV (APHV) was small (R 2 = 5.3%). Discriminant validity was established by classifying participants as pre- or post-PHV or menarche (X2 = 32.62, P < .0001). The Pearson’s correlation between chronological age and age at PHV (r = .69) was stronger than with age at menarche (r = .26). Making informed decisions about accounting for growth and maturation using estimated age at PHV are offered.