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Travis E. Dorsch and Nicole D. Bolter

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Nicole D. Bolter, Lindsay Kipp, and Tyler Johnson

Background: Promoting good sportsmanship is a common goal of school physical education and many youth sport organizations. Teachers and coaches play a key role in accomplishing this goal. Thus, it is important to gather teachers’ and coaches’ reports of how they teach sportsmanship as well as youths’ perceptions of those behaviors to understand if and how this goal is being fulfilled. Purpose: To clarify the degree of alignment between leader and youth perceptions of sportsmanship by comparing: (a) physical education teachers’ self-reported sportsmanship teaching behaviors with their students’ perceptions of their teacher’s behavior and (b) youth sport coaches’ self-reported sportsmanship coaching behaviors with their athletes’ perceptions of their coach’s behaviors. Method: The physical education sample included 27 teachers and 837 boys and girls aged 11–15 years. The sport sample included 32 coaches and 246 boys and girls aged 10–15 years. Youth completed a survey about their leader’s behaviors related to sportsmanship. Leaders completed a parallel survey about their own behaviors. Results: Teachers rated themselves as significantly more often reinforcing and modeling good sportsmanship and punishing poor sportsmanship than students reported. Coaches rated themselves as significantly more often reinforcing and teaching good sportsmanship than perceived by their athletes. Conclusions: Misalignment between leaders’ and youths’ perceptions of several sportsmanship behaviors speaks to the importance of leaders engaging in strategies to accurately assess their own behaviors.

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Laura J. Petranek, Nicole D. Bolter, and Ken Bell

Purpose: External attentional focused instructions and feedback have shown to enhance motor performance among adults, adolescents, and older children. This study examined type and frequency of instructions and feedback among younger children performing an overhand throw. Method: First graders (N = 65) were provided external or internal focused instructions at high- or low-frequency rates resulting in four experimental groups (External-High, External-Low, Internal-High, and Internal-Low). Results: Internal focused groups performed significantly better than external focused groups during retention–transfer, and children who received feedback that is more frequent performed better. External-Low performed better than External-High at the end of acquisition and retention–transfer, whereas Internal-High performed better than Internal-Low throughout acquisition. Conclusion: Data support previous research indicating children need more feedback when learning a motor skill but did not support prior studies regarding attentional focus. More work is needed to understand how and why young children respond differently to attentional focused instructions and feedback.

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Lindsay E. Kipp, Nicole D. Bolter, and Alison Phillips Reichter

Purpose: Girls participating in aesthetic sports may be at risk for disordered eating and low self-esteem. Informed by self-determination theory, the authors examined motivational climate profiles to understand how climate dimensions differentially relate to psychological needs satisfaction, self-esteem, and disordered eating. Methods: Female gymnasts, divers, and figure skaters (N = 183; mean age = 13.5) completed a survey to assess perceptions of the motivational climate, perceived sport competence, autonomy, relatedness, self-esteem, and dieting. Pubertal status was assessed to control for developmental differences. Results: Three profiles emerged: High Important Role/Low Performance, High Effort and Cooperation/High Rivalry, and Low Mastery/High Unequal Recognition and Punishment. A 3 × 2 multivariate analysis of variance revealed profile groups significantly differed on perceived autonomy, coach relatedness, and teammate relatedness. In addition, perceived competence, self-esteem, and dieting significantly differed by pubertal status. For autonomy, the High Important Role/Low Performance group reported the highest scores. For coach and teammate relatedness, the Low Mastery/High Unequal Recognition and Punishment group reported significantly lower scores than the other 2 groups. Postpubertal girls reported lower sport ability and self-esteem and greater dieting. Conclusion: Physical maturity and social context were important in explaining girls’ psychological needs satisfaction and well-being. Results add to the authors’ understanding of the complex nature and influence of the motivational climate.

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Maureen R. Weiss, Lindsay E. Kipp, Alison Phillips Reichter, Sarah M. Espinoza, and Nicole D. Bolter

Purpose: Girls on the Run is an after-school physical activity-based positive youth development program designed to enhance girls’ social, psychological, and physical development. We evaluated the effectiveness of the program by employing a longitudinal design and mixed methods. Methods: Girls (N = 203; aged 8–11 y) completed survey measures of positive youth development constructs (competence, confidence, connection, character, and caring), physical activity, and sedentary behavior prior to, at the end of, and 3 months after the season. Subsamples of girls, coaches, caregivers, and school personnel participated in focus groups. Coaches completed information about their team’s community impact project and number of girls who completed the season-ending 5k. Results: The full sample improved in confidence and connection, whereas girls who started below the preseason average showed the greatest gains from preseason to postseason on all measures, and scores were maintained or continued to improve at follow-up. All stakeholders in focus groups corroborated evidence of season-long improvement in social and emotional behaviors and health outcomes. Involvement in the community impact project contributed to girls’ growth in character and empathy skills. Conclusion: Findings provide empirical evidence that Girls on the Run is effective in promoting positive youth development, including season-long and lasting change in competence, confidence, connection, character, caring, and physical activity, especially among girls who exhibited lower preseason scores than their peers.

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Maureen R. Weiss, Lindsay E. Kipp, Alison Phillips Reichter, and Nicole D. Bolter

Purpose: Girls on the Run (GOTR), a physical activity-based positive youth development program, uses running as a platform to teach life skills and promote healthy behaviors. In this companion paper of our comprehensive project, the authors evaluated program impact on positive youth development by comparing GOTR participants to youth in other organized activities (Sport and physical education [PE]) on life skills transfer and social processes. Qualitative methods complemented quantitative data through interviews with GOTR stakeholders. Method: The participants included 215 girls in GOTR and 692 girls in the same grades and schools who did not participate in GOTR (Sport = 485; PE = 207). They completed self-report measures of life skills transfer, peer and coach relatedness, and coach autonomy support at the season’s end. GOTR subsamples of girls, coaches, caregivers, and school personnel participated in focus groups. Results: Girls in GOTR compared favorably to the Sport and PE girls on all life skills—managing emotions, resolving conflicts, helping others, and making intentional decisions—and to the PE girls for all 3 social processes. The GOTR and Sport girls did not differ on coach relatedness and autonomy support, but the Sport girls rated teammate relatedness higher. The GOTR girls’ scores on life skills transfer remained stable at a 3-month follow-up assessment. Stakeholders in the focus groups shared corroborating evidence that, through participating in GOTR, girls learn skills that generalize to school and home contexts. Conclusion: Using comparison groups, a retention assessment, and mixed methods, the findings provide evidence that GOTR is effective in teaching skills and strategies that generalize to broader life domains. The processes that explain group differences on life skills transfer include GOTR’s intentional curriculum of skill-building activities delivered by coaches within a caring and autonomy-supportive climate.

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Ryan P. Durk, Esperanza Castillo, Leticia Márquez-Magaña, Gregory J. Grosicki, Nicole D. Bolter, C. Matthew Lee, and James R. Bagley

Bacteria residing in the human gastrointestinal tract has a symbiotic relationship with its host. Animal models have demonstrated a relationship between exercise and gut microbiota composition. This was the first study to explore the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness (maximal oxygen consumption, VO2max) and relative gut microbiota composition (Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio [F/B]) in healthy young adults in a free-living environment. Twenty males and 17 females (25.7 ± 2.2 years), who did not take antibiotics in the last 6 months, volunteered for this study. VO2max was measured using a symptom-limited graded treadmill test. Relative microbiota composition was determined by analyzing DNA extracted from stool samples using a quantitative polymerase chain reaction that specifically measured the quantity of a target gene (16S rRNA) found in Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. Relationships between F/B and potentially related dietary, anthropometric, and fitness variables were assessed using correlation analyses with an appropriate Bonferroni adjustment (p < .004). The average F/B ratio in all participants was 0.94 ± 0.03. The F/B ratio was significantly correlated to VO2max (r = .48, p < .003), but no other fitness, nutritional intake, or anthropometric variables (p > .004). VO2max explained ∼22% of the variance of an individual’s relative gut bacteria as determined by the F/B ratio. These data support animal findings, demonstrating a relationship between relative human gut microbiota composition and cardiorespiratory fitness in healthy young adults. Gastrointestinal bacteria is integral in regulating a myriad of physiological processes, and greater insight regarding ramifications of exercise and nutrition on gut microbial composition may help guide therapies to promote human health.