Youth sport has traditionally focused on developing athletes physically, technically, and tactically; however, it is important to consider the purposeful development of mental and emotional sport skills for these competitors. Youth athletes experience various stressors within their sport participation that impact their ability to successfully manage the sport environment. Youth sport coaches have a tremendous influence on their athletes and are in a position to help them develop the necessary skills to effectively confront the stress they experience. In addition, the International Sport Coaching Framework identifies six primary functions of coaches to help “fulfil the core purpose of guiding improvement and development” of youth athletes (International Council for Coaching Excellence, 2013, p. 16). This article outlines the developmental stage considerations for working with youth athletes and a tool coaches can use to integrate mental skills development strategies into sport practices. Utilizing the evidence-based steps within this article fosters a holistic and developmentally appropriate approach to performance enhancement and personal development, as both are important objectives for youth sport coaches.
Rebecca A. Zakrajsek, E. Earlynn Lauer and Kimberly J. Bodey
Terilyn C. Shigeno, E. Earlynn Lauer, Leslee A. Fisher, Emily J. Johnson and Rebecca A. Zakrajsek
Though commonly emphasized by parents, coaches, and youth sport organizations, relatively little research exists with regard to morality in youth sport. In this Insights paper, we utilize Shields and Bredemeier’s 12-component model of moral action to help coaches become aware of how sport contextual influences, personal competencies, and ego-processing variables influence the moral behavior of their athletes. With insight from conversations with youth sport coaches, in addition to empirical and professional practice evidence, we provide coaches with three practical strategies they can use to: (a) consider how morality fits into their coaching philosophy, (b) create moral group norms within their teams, and (c) integrate moral decision-making into their practice plans.