January 13, 2010
Coaches can shape young athletes' definition of success by Joel Schwarz & Sean Cumming
Young athletes' achievement goals can change in a healthy way over the course of a season when their coaches create a mastery motivational climate rather than an ego orientation, University of Washington sport psychologists have found. A mastery climate stresses positive communication between coaches and athletes, teamwork and doing one's best. An ego climate, typified by many professional sports coaches, focuses on winning at all costs and being better than others.
"Much of life is affected by motivation and achievement," said Ronald Smith, a UW psychology professor and lead author of a new study. "Our study looked at children 9 to 13 years of age and there was no difference by age or sex. And it was also significant because it shows the influence of a mastery climate on children's achievement goals in a relatively short time, 12 weeks."
For several decades psychologists have believed that children under the age of 11 or 12 could not distinguish between effort and ability. That still may be true when it comes to academics, but the new research indicates that children as young as 9 can tell the difference between the two while participating in sports.
Check back next week for another great coaching article.