Youth sport participation has been found to have many beneficial physical, psychological, and social consequences, as well as risks for those involved. If the benefits are to outweigh the detriments, youth sport must be thoughtfully constructed. Research can play a major role in understanding how to positively structure youth sport. This paper describes how the youth sport landscape has changed over the past 4 decades and how these changes may influence the outcomes of involvement. Critical issues of contemporary concern in youth sport that urgently need scientific attention include physically based issues (e.g., role of youth sport in combating physical inactivity, youth sport injuries), psychological issues (e.g., reducing stress and burnout, enhancing young athletes’ mental health), access and structural issues (e.g., lack of opportunities for poor and less-skilled youth), sport culture issues (e.g., the professionalization of youth sport, child safety, maltreatment and bullying), issues associated with significant others (e.g., coach, sport parent, and peer influences and needs), economic issues (e.g., youth sport as business), governmental and legislative issues (e.g., the need to become more politically active in the setting of policy, legislation, and funding), and translational science and program-evaluation issues (e.g., the need for research dissemination and evaluation research).
Past youth sports research studies that have had significant practical and theoretical impact were identified. These investigations were characterized by several features: (a) asking questions of practical importance, (b) integrating previous research or theory into the designs, (c) employing adequate methodological procedures and sample sizes, and (d) answering questions through series of interrelated investigations. In contrast, youth sports studies that did not have as much impact did not reflect many of these characteristics. Based on these findings, future directions in youth sports research were identified. It was concluded that if the sport psychologist is to conduct socially significant research that will make contributions to those involved in youth sports, three issues must be addressed. First, critical questions of practical significance must be identified. In an effort to identify these issues the results of a survey on psychological topics of practical significance to youth sport personnel was presented. In addition, beneficial and detrimental aspects of theory testing are outlined as well as the role of strong inference in conducting youth sports research. The second issue addressed is the use of varied types of research in studying youth sports. It is argued that descriptive, evaluation, and systems approach research are all needed and examples of each type of research are presented. The third issue examined is the need for a shift in methodological approaches when conducting youth sports research. Sport psychologists must realize that no single method is always best, and varied as well as innovative methodological procedures must be employed. The need to shift from a linear causation and convenient ANOVA categories model to a multidisciplinary, multivariate, and longitudinal approach is suggested.
The mission of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports (ISYS) is to provide leadership, scholarship, and outreach that “transforms” the face of youth sports in ways that maximize the beneficial physical, psychological, and social effects of participation for children and youth while minimizing detrimental effects. Since its inception in 1978, ISYS has partnered with numerous organizations to promote healthy youth sports participation. In this article, the general steps ISYS takes to form and facilitate partnerships are addressed. Four long-term partnerships are also described. The services provided to these organizations are described and the advantages and challenges of working with partners, in general, are delineated. How these partnerships are used to facilitate the teaching, outreach-engagement, and scholarship components of the Michigan State University land grant mission are also described. The case of ISYS shows that conducting community outreach and engagement projects greatly enhance the scholarly mission of the university.
Daniel Gould and Laura Finch
Jay Kimiecik and Daniel Gould
Edited by Daniel Gould and Glyn Roberts
Daniel Gould and Maureen Weiss
This study was designed to determine if observing a similar or dissimilar model who makes varying self-efficacy statements influences an observer's efficacy expectations and, in turn, muscular endurance performance. Females (N = 150) were randomly assigned to groups in a 2 × 4 × 3 (model similarity by model talk by trials) factorial design or to a no-model control group. Model similarity was manipulated by having subjects view a female described as a nonathlete (similar) or a male described as a varsity track athlete (dissimilar). The four levels of model talk included: a positive self-talk model who performed and made positive self-efficacy statements, a negative self-talk model who made negative self-efficacy statements, an irrelevant-talk model who made statements unrelated to self-efficacy, and a no-talk model who remained silent throughout the performance. Self-efficacy measures were assessed in addition to performance on three trials of a muscular endurance task. Results revealed that similar model subjects extended their legs significantly longer than dissimilar model and control subjects. Moreover, the similar-positive-talk and similar-no-talk groups performed significantly better than the dissimilar-positive-talk, dissimilar-negative talk, dissimilar-no-talk, and the no-model control groups. Subject self-efficacy, however, was not found to be the major mediating variable affecting these performance changes.