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Strategies for Fostering a Quality Physical Activity-Based Mentoring Program for Female Youth: Lessons Learned and Future Directions

Corliss Bean and Tanya Forneris

The current case outlines practical strategies used by youth leaders to implement a female-only physical activity-based mentoring program. This program was selected as the case for the current paper as it scored the highest on program quality out of 26 different sport and physical activity-based youth programs within a larger project. The two program leaders were interviewed to understand what practical strategies they used to foster a high-quality program within this context. The leaders discussed how they: (a) focused on developing individualized relationships with youth, (b) balanced structure with flexibility to allow for youth voice, (c) intentionally integrated life skills, and (d) combined engaging activities with downtime to differentiate the program from school. This case provides a practical account of how front-line workers in youth mentoring programs, specifically within sport and physical activity contexts, can deliver a quality program. Reflection on areas for future work within the field of sport psychology, including ways to bridge the gap between research and practice and the need to develop communities of practice for youth programmers, are presented.

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Lessons Learned in Supporting Women With Prediabetes Through Maintaining Diet and Exercise Behavior Changes Beyond a Diabetes-Prevention Counseling Program

Corliss Bean, Tineke Dineen, and Mary Jung

Interventions involving exercise and diet can reduce the progression of Type 2 diabetes, yet they are often short-lived. Progressing toward self-managed maintenance is also challenging. If supports are in place to help individuals with behavior changes beyond immediate programming, they are more likely to maintain these changes. This is particularly the case for women, who often struggle to maintain diet and exercise changes and can benefit from social support. Small Steps for Big Changes is a 3-week counseling program housed in a local YMCA that aims to help people make exercise and diet changes. To understand how to best support women in maintaining these changes beyond program delivery, a knowledge-sharing event was held for 14 women who completed the intervention. The women engaged in a focus group to share challenges they had experienced in making diet and exercise changes and recommendations for continued support. Data were analyzed using a thematic analysis, and three recommendation areas were identified: (a) establishing peer support networks, (b) creating platforms to communicate prediabetes-related information, and (c) providing ongoing trainer support. Several recommendations have been implemented to support these women, and other individuals, postprogram. This case provides insights and recommendations for integration of initiatives beyond delivery of a behavior-change program housed in a community organization.

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Coaching Strategies Used to Deliver Quality Youth Sport Programming

Corliss Bean, Majidullah Shaikh, and Tanya Forneris

Coaches are primary influencers in helping youth achieve positive developmental outcomes in sport; however, it is not well understood how coaches achieve quality program delivery. The purpose of this study was two-fold: (a) to understand strategies that coaches used to facilitate program quality in youth sport and (b) explore differences in strategies between recreational and competitive programs. Twenty-five coaches participated in semistructured interviews, where they discussed strategies employed for program delivery. Interviews were guided, in-part, by Eccles and Gootman’s eight setting features that should be present within a program for youth to achieve positive developmental outcomes. An inductive-deductive thematic analysis was employed, in which strategies associated with facilitating program quality were interpreted inductively, and then categorised deductively under a relevant setting feature. Results indicated that coaches used unique strategies across all eight setting features, with a predominant focus on strategies to support youth’s efficacy and mattering (e.g., giving positive reinforcement) and opportunities for skill-building (e.g., valuing holistic development of youth), with lesser focus on strategies that involved integrating family, school, and community. Practical implications are discussed on how coaches can use strategies to address multiple setting features and recommendations are provided for improving program delivery.

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Examining Program Quality in a National Junior Golf Development Program

Sara Kramers, Martin Camiré, and Corliss Bean

Golf Canada recently restructured its national junior golf development program, Learn to Play, going from an original curriculum that focused on teaching golf skills to an updated curriculum that integrates the teaching of golf and life skills. The purpose of the study was to examine whether there were differences in program quality through implementation of the original program compared with the updated program. Five coaches using the original program and nine coaches using the updated program took part in the study over an entire summer golf season. The 14 coaches (M age = 40 years) were each systematically observed on three occasions (i.e., total of 42 observations) and completed an end-of-season program quality questionnaire. The data were subjected to descriptive statistical analyses. Results demonstrated that (a) coaches who implemented the updated program were observed fostering higher levels of program quality than coaches who implemented the original program and (b) researcher observation scores were significantly lower than coach questionnaire scores of program quality. Results are discussed to situate the influence of the updated program on markers of quality. Practical implications for coach education and explicit life skills curricula are discussed.

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Increasing Health Equity for Postpartum Women Through Physical Activity

Corliss Bean and Iris Lesser

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The Perspective of Ontario Girls’ Youth Hockey as an Alternative Sport Model

Corliss Bean, Tanya Forneris, and Michael A. Robidoux

Ice hockey is one of the most played sports by youth in Canada, and over the past twenty years, female participation rates in hockey have increased by nearly 900% (Hockey Canada, 2005; 2009). However, despite female involvement in the sport, much controversy still remains for women crossing the gender line of ‘malestream’ (Hall, 1996) hockey. The goal of this paper is to use a case study to offer information about the dynamics of female youth hockey in terms of team play, parental interaction in the stands, and youth and parental commentary about their experiences. Through video and researcher observations, extensive field notes, and interviews, the context of female hockey was examined. Results revealed that female hockey may indeed be an environment that provides a unique experience for players. Four overarching themes emerged: 1) rule differences; 2) seriousness; 3) positive parental support; and 4) emphasis on team play and social relationships.

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Examining the Role of Physical Activity on Psychological Well-Being and Mental Health Postpartum

Iris A. Lesser, Stéphanie Turgeon, Carl P. Nienhuis, and Corliss Bean

Postpartum physical activity can positively impact mental and physical health. There is a need to better understand how physical activity is related to various psychological constructs to support physical activity in postpartum women. Thus, the purpose of this exploratory, quantitative, study was to examine differences between postpartum women who were physically active and those who were physically inactive on psychological (e.g., self-compassion) and mental health constructs. Five hundred twenty-five women (M age = 28.4) completed an online survey. Participants who reported being active following the birth of their last child had significantly higher exercise self-efficacy, self-compassion, and basic psychological needs fulfillment for exercise and significantly lower levels of perceived fatigue, anxiety, and depression compared with their inactive counterparts. However, active mothers had lower body satisfaction than inactive mothers. Women who are active after the birth of a child have improved psychological constructs that may benefit  overall well-being and mental health during this challenging transition.

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Coaches’ Reflections of Using a Charity-Driven Framework to Foster Youth Athletes’ Psychosocial Outcomes

Corliss Bean, Carl Nienhuis, Jason Proulx, Tiara Cash, Lara Aknin, and Ashley V. Whillans

When structured appropriately, sport can promote psychosocial development in youth athletes. However, few frameworks exist that allow coaches to intentionally support youth’s psychosocial development through their sport programming. The Play Better framework represents one intentional approach that incorporates prosocial behavior where youth earn donations toward charitable causes for reaching process-based goals. Given the potential benefit that explicit strategies have for yielding positive developmental outcomes, there is a need for research to explore the role of intentionality in enhancing quality sport delivery. The purpose of this study was to understand coaches’ perceptions of using the framework within their coaching practices. Twenty-three soccer coaches (83% male) participated in a one-on-one semistructured interview analyzed inductively. Results indicated that coaches perceived the Play Better framework to (a) help enact their coaching philosophies; (b) enable youth choice, while supporting sport-skill development and enjoyment; (c) facilitate intentional approaches to life skills development and transfer; and (d) foster professional and personal development. This research provides initial evidence of the benefit of using an intentional framework, like Play Better, for athletes and coaches. Future research is needed to understand athlete and parent perspectives of utilizing the framework. Findings help inform future coach training resources and best practices.

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Reflections on Improving Women’s Experiences of Mentorship in Canadian Coaching

Sara Kramers, Corliss Bean, Caroline Hummell, Veronica Allan, Andrea Johnson, and Jennifer Turnnidge

Despite recent advancements for women in leadership roles, women remain underrepresented in sport coaching contexts. Mentorship has been advocated as a potential avenue for advancing and sustaining the careers of women coaches. In line with this, national sporting bodies have implemented mentorship programs to pair new and aspiring women coaches with senior leaders. While recent evaluations show promising results, research is needed to understand how these programs are conceptualized, implemented, and experienced by program participants. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore stakeholders’ experiences in two Canadian women in coaching mentorship programs. Perspectives were gathered from 21 Canadian sport stakeholders that included program mentees, mentors, and staff. Data were analyzed using a reflexive thematic approach. Findings demonstrate the need for purposefully recruiting both mentor and mentee coaches to sustain meaningful partnerships. Additionally, participants highlighted the need for sport organizations to situate women in coaching as a priority and engage in sponsorship and long-term planning for sustaining women’s advancements in coaching. This study explores women in coaching mentorship programs from multiple perspectives, which may inform future formalized mentorship opportunities for women coaches by addressing identified challenges and barriers.

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Participant Bias in Community-Based Physical Activity Research: A Consistent Limitation?

Iris A. Lesser, Amanda Wurz, Corliss Bean, Nicole Culos-Reed, Scott A. Lear, and Mary Jung

Physical activity is a beneficial, yet complex, health behavior. To ensure more people experience the benefits of physical activity, we develop and test interventions to promote physical activity and its associated benefits. Nevertheless, we continue to see certain groups of people who choose not to, or are unable to, take part in research, resulting in “recruitment bias.” In fact, we (and others) are seemingly missing large segments of people and are doing little to promote physical activity research to equity-deserving populations. So, how can we better address recruitment bias in the physical activity research we conduct? Based on our experience, we have identified 5 broad, interrelated, and applicable strategies to enhance recruitment and engagement within physical activity interventions: (1) gain trust, (2) increase community support and participation, (3) consider alternative approaches and designs, (4) rethink recruitment strategies, and (5) incentivize participants. While we recognize there is still a long way to go, and there are broader community and societal issues underlying recruitment to research, we hope this commentary prompts researchers to consider what they can do to try to address the ever-present limitation of “recruitment bias” and support greater participation among equity-deserving groups.