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Sports in the Lives of Children and Adolescents: Success on the Field and in Life

Alan L. Smith

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A Case for Peer-Focused Efforts to Understand and Promote Physical Activity in Young People

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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Perceptions of Peer Relationships and Physical Activity Participation in Early Adolescence

Alan L. Smith

This study tested a model describing the relationships among perceptions of peer relationships, physical self-worth, affective responses toward physical activity, and physical activity motivation. The model was grounded in Harter’s (1978,1981a, 1986,1987) theoretical perspective, proposing that perceptions of peer relationships (i.e., friendship, peer acceptance) would predict physical activity motivation via affect and physical self-worth. Adolescents (N = 418, ages 12–15 years) completed a battery of questionnaires that assessed the study variables. Results of structural equation modeling analyses supported the overall model and most of the hypothesized direct and indirect relationships among variables for both female and male samples. Examination of alternative models suggested that some expected relationships might have been suppressed by a high correlation between the friendship and peer-acceptance constructs. However, alternative models also showed that these constructs independently contribute to predicting motivational variables. The results illustrate the importance of peer relationships to adolescent physical activity motivation.

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A Person-Centered Exploration of Athlete Burnout Across a Competitive Season

J.D. DeFreese and Alan L. Smith

Person-centered investigations of athlete burnout have utility to unearth novel information about this developmental experience within the social environment of competitive sport. Guided by extant theory, conceptually proposed developmental patterns of athlete burnout were examined across a season as expressed in profiles of emotional and physical exhaustion, reduced accomplishment, and sport devaluation perceptions. Athlete social perceptions were also explored as predictors of profile membership. Collegiate athletes (N = 129) completed established assessments of study variables at four in-season time points. Latent profile analysis revealed profiles characterized by athletes experiencing the three burnout dimensions similarly at any given time point, with the notable exception of exhaustion being more frequently experienced in some profiles. Social support perceptions predicted profile membership with moderate success. Trends in profile stability provide some support for consideration of exhaustion-driven burnout experiences. Results shed light on the theoretical pathways of burnout development and inform continued longitudinal burnout research efforts.

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Teammate Relationships, Loneliness, and the Motivational and Well-Being Experiences of Adolescent Athletes

Christine E. Pacewicz and Alan L. Smith

Interpersonal exchanges may contribute to athletes’ motivational and well-being experiences through their contribution to athletes’ feelings of loneliness. Loneliness is understudied in sport, yet it is potentially salient in connecting social relationships with motivational processes and well-being of athletes. The purpose of the current research was to examine (a) the association of aspects of teammate relationships with athletes’ perceptions of burnout and engagement and (b) whether loneliness explained these associations. Adolescent athletes (N = 279) completed established measures of teammate relationships, loneliness, burnout, and engagement. The mediational model was invariant between boys and girls. Loneliness mediated the relationship of social support (β = −0.14, 0.10), corumination (β = 0.09, −0.06), and appraisal of peer rejection (β = 0.11, −0.08) with burnout and engagement, respectively. Continued examination of athletes’ loneliness will extend understanding of athletes’ motivational and well-being experiences and inform the promotion of adaptive sport experiences.

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Leading Through Times of Uncertainty: The Future of Higher Education, Work, and Kinesiology

Alan L. Smith and Jeffrey T. Fairbrother

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Introduction to the Special Issue on Contemporary Youth Sport: Critical Issues and Future Directions

Alan L. Smith and Daniel Gould

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Promoting Physical Activity Through Kinesiology Teaching and Outreach: An Eye Toward the Future

Nancy I. Williams and Alan L. Smith

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Coping Resources and Athlete Burnout: An Examination of Stress Mediated and Moderation Hypotheses

Thomas D. Raedeke and Alan L. Smith

Although it is widely accepted that coping resources theoretically influence the stress-burnout relationship, it is unclear whether key internal (i.e., coping behaviors) and external (i.e., social support satisfaction) coping resources have stress-mediated or moderating influences on athlete burnout. Therefore we examined whether coping behaviors and social support satisfaction (a) had indirect stress-mediated relationships with burnout or (b) disjunctively (independently) or conjunctively (in combination) moderated the relationship between perceived stress and burnout. Senior level age-group swimmers (N = 244; ages 14–19 years) completed a questionnaire assessing burnout, perceived stress, general coping behaviors, and social support satisfaction. The results revealed that perceived stress, general coping behaviors, and social support satisfaction were related to burnout. Structural equation modeling demonstrated that general coping behaviors and social support satisfaction had stress-mediated relationships with overall burnout levels. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses failed to support the disjunctive and conjunctive moderation hypotheses. Results thus support stress-mediated perspectives forwarded in previous research.

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Quality of Youth Sport Friendships: Measurement Development and Validation

Maureen R. Weiss and Alan L. Smith

The role of peers has been neglected in research on youth psychosocial development in sport. The purpose of the present study was to develop and validate a measure of youth sport friendship quality for the purpose of facilitating such research. Dimensions and higher order themes found in Weiss, Smith, and Theeboom’s (1996) qualitative study of sport friendships among children and adolescents, as well as a core set of items from previous research (Parker & Asher, 1993), were used to develop and refine items for a sport friendship quality scale. Over the course of three studies, content, factorial, and construct validity, as well as internal consistency and test-retest reliability, were demonstrated for the Sport Friendship Quality Scale (SFQS). Future research is recommended to examine the role of children’s sport friendship quality on psychosocial development in the physical domain.