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Taking Stock of Youth Sport Group Dynamics Research: A Scoping Review

Brennan Petersen, Mark Eys, Kody Watson, and M. Blair Evans

Given the prevalence of group contexts in sport and the importance of the social environment for motivating youth participants, understanding and enhancing group dynamics are critical to facilitate youths’ participation in, and development through, sport. The current objective was to report on a scoping review that was employed to summarize research focused on the dynamics in youth sport groups. The review identified several themes that have been focused on with regularity (i.e., cohesion) and identified others with opportunities for greater incorporation in youth sport research (e.g., cooperation). Furthermore, encouragement is provided to move beyond survey-based, cross-sectional research and to give greater consideration to a developmental approach to understanding child and youth perceptions of the groups to which they belong. Overall, there are many opportunities for researchers to study the dynamics of youth sport groups with an aim to enhance the experiences of young athletes and facilitate group functioning.

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Constellation Mentoring for University Soccer Players: A Case Study

Brennan Petersen, Cole E. Giffin, Thierry R.F. Middleton, and Yufeng Li

Peer mentoring is a supportive relationship between a more experienced mentor and a less experienced protégé that has garnered attention in recent sport research. Moving beyond traditional mentoring dyads, constellation peer mentoring engages several mentors to provide support to a protégé, ensuring they have access to multiple perspectives and areas of expertise. We implemented a constellation peer-mentoring program with Canadian university student-athletes throughout their competitive seasons. Subsequently, we undertook an instrumental case study to explore participants’ feedback and the perceived benefits of the program. Using reflexive thematic analysis, we interpreted participants’ responses as indicative of traditional mentoring benefits, including reduced transitional stress, feelings of well-being, and feelings of satisfaction. In addition, we determined unique aspects of constellation peer mentoring, such as increased team cohesion, improved help-seeking, an environment that fostered relational mentoring experiences, and the need for leader training. Constellation peer mentoring presents a promising intervention for supporting student-athletes during career transitions.