Coaches Plan - 2017 Year in Review

26 Coaches plan In sport psychology circles, consultants often come across very talented young athletes who show a great deal of potential in sport. The problem is that once a failure or challenge is presented, some of these talented young people do not know how to cope. As researchers, we wondered why this was happening. Then it hit us – sport skills are being developed, taught, and refined but the effort to teach psychological skills has been thrown by the wayside. Which skills are developmentally appropriate to teach through the Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model and how? LTAD & Psychological Literacy The LTAD framework, created by Canadian Sport for Life (CS4L), outlines the development of physical skill and activity levels over the lifespan. The model is used to assist everyone from young children learning to use their bodies, to athletes at the highest level training for international competition, to older adults looking to maintain active lifestyles. The ‘FUNdamentals’ stage of the LTAD model refers to male athletes ages 6-9 and female athletes ages 6-8. The focus during this stage is on general movement patterns and overall development as well as the introduction to concepts such as fair play, while ensuring activities remains fun and enjoyable. The ‘Learn to Train’ stage targets male athletes ages 6-12 and female athletes ages 8-11. This stage is centered on general sports skill development through the introduction of sport specific training and periodization. All basic sport skills should be learned prior to or during this phase. One thing seems to be missing though - the LTAD framework places an emphasis on physical development but what about psychological development? How is this developed through the LTAD phases? Sport organizations have placed a huge emphasis on how physical skills are developed but what coaches and administrators have failed to realize is that psychological skills (i.e., psychological literacy) also need to be developed for children to be able to perform and cope with disappointments that are experienced in sport. We used theories from classical psychology to try to help us understand more about children and youth and then did a study with kids in the ‘FUNdamentals’ stage and the ‘Learn to Train’stageof sport toseewhat theyareexperiencing. In total, 18 sport participants (between the ages of 7-11 years), 13 parents, four coaches, and four sport administrators participated in the study. They represented four sports: basketball, hockey, diving, and gymnastics. The parents and sport participants were engaged in focus groups and the coaches and administrators completed interviews. How can sport help young children develop psychological literacy? Based on our results, there are some suggestions that we have to help develop psychological literacy through the LTAD model. The process is a long one but we feel that the skills must be infused in sport much sooner than it is currently happening. Simple steps can help to make a big difference. Psychological Literacy - A new termor old concept? By Dr. Leisha Strachan and Kevin Kristjanson – University of Manitoba, andDr. Adrienne Leslie-Toogood – Canadian Sport CentreManitoba