Click the cross to close this cookie notice. X
Add a hyperlink to the space navigation. You can link to internal or external web pages. Enter the Tab name and Tab URL. Upload or choose an icon. Then click Save.
Increasing Young People’s Motivation to Play through Coaching
Fun is a key motivator for young people who play sport, but they are also looking for sporting experiences that connect with their social lives. New research illustrates how fun and positive peer relationships are interrelated, and essential in ensuring young people continue to participate in sport.
With these two factors in mind, this research summary provides a series of strategies for youth sport coaches to consider using in their coaching. After all, coaches are ideally placed to provide fun sporting experiences, and shape positive relationships between the young people they coach.
The theory – understanding youth dropout, motivations and the role of the coach
It is well established by research that if young people’s motivations to play sport are not met, they are more likely to stop playing and spend their time doing something else.
In a new study from Nicole Martin at Pacific Lutheran University in America, fun and peer affiliation were identified as two key motivations for young people. The two are fundamentally linked – if young people’s relationships are positive, they are more likely to have fun playing sport and therefore be more motivated to continue playing. If the relationships they develop are not positive, they are more likely to drop out.
However, the theory is more complex than simply suggesting that young people who play sport together need to get along. Most notably, their relationships change as they get older. At the younger age of around eight, they will rely on coaches and parents for feedback on their sporting ability. However, from age 10 onwards, they are more likely to compare themselves to their peers. The results of these peer comparisons will determine how they perceive their own ability and competence, which either reinforces or destroys their motivation to continue playing.
So where does the coach fit in?
Well, coaches can play a vital role in framing the behaviour of their players, ensuring they exhibit positive behaviours and characteristics, rather than negative ones that may lead to negative peer comparisons and an increased likelihood of dropping out.
For example, if a coach promotes companionship and an environment free from conflict, young people are more likely to enjoy playing alongside each other and be motivated to continue doing so. On the other hand, if a coach allows conflict to creep into the sessions, in the form of disagreements, insults or arguments, young people are more likely to avoid such situations by no longer attending.
While these are just two simple examples, the study provides a range of strategies for coaches to consider using in order to promote positive peer relationships that will enhance young people’s motivation to continue playing sport.
Enhancing peer relationships
Coaches can create an environment that motivates young people by developing team cohesion and a commitment to work towards appropriate goals.
You can try doing this by:
Developing team cohesion
The researcher also provides specific strategies for coaches to consider using in their own practice to develop team cohesion:
Setting appropriate goals
The research also provides coaches with guidance on how to set appropriate goals for young people:
Beyond the strategies for developing positive peer relationships above, the study also provides a range of techniques for coaches that aim to ensure their coaching meets young people’s specific needs.
In this case, the specific needs cited by the researcher relate to young people’s main motivations to participate in sport – fun and peer affiliation, excitement, skill development, fitness and success.
Techniques to develop fun and peer affiliation
Techniques to ensure excitement in your sessions
Techniques for skill development
Techniques for fitness
Techniques for success
Learning from the research
This new study reinforces our knowledge of fun being a key motivator for young people who play sport.
However, it also raises our awareness of how influential peers are, particularly once young people reach adolescence and start to compare themselves to their peers.
If coaches understand that these peer comparisons inform young people’s motivations to play sport, they can begin to build strategies into their sessions that promote positive peer relationships.
The research provides a range of strategies and techniques for coaches to consider trying in their own coaching, all of which aim to increase young people’s motivation to play sport and their enjoyment of it, thereby reducing the likelihood of them dropping out.
Download Research Summary: Increasing Young People’s Motivation to Play through Coaching.
What do you think of this research post? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
If you are interested in finding out more about this area, this summary is based on the article below:
Martin, N.J. (2014) ‘Keeping it fun in youth sport: What coaches should know and do’, Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators, 27 (5): 27–32.
Other more general reading and references from this summary include:
Allen, J.B. (2003) ‘Social motivation in youth sport’, Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 25: 551–567.
UK Coaching is the brand name of registered UK Charity The National Coaching Foundation.
© Copyright The National Coaching Foundation, 2015, All rights reserved.
Registration Number 2092919 Charity Registration Number 327354
Registered Offices at: Chelsea Close, Off Amberley Road, Armley, Leeds, LS12 4HP
Homepage images ) Alan Edwards and Coachwise/SWpix?