Returning to Play – Player Centered Youth Sports

We are all excited to be returning to play, safely and with precaution, but also so youth athletes can return to playing.

Here is a great resource to help youth players with returning to play –

A great resource to supporting motivation, for players and parents –

Somehow over time we have pushed youth players towards professionalism, in that we reflect the adult game on to the youth player. This has great implications to the learning of a player, and ultimately also participation.

Player development is a process, and this is important for a player’s motivation, confidence, and long term skill development. The long-term player development process is player-centered, where the athlete is on a pathway to accomplishing either a skill (a process goal), or individual improvement, i.e., bettering current level of play (performance goal). These goals greatly effect confidence and motivation in a player and supports the players decision making through empowerment of being in control of the process/performance goal.

We are too quick though to reflect the adult game on to the youth player, where we judge and evaluate a player on an outcome (winning a game). These outcome goals are short term and are not within the control of the individual. These goals create a heightened level of stress for the player, and ultimately anxiety and decreased confidence. We see a dropout rate in youth sports of 73% by age 14!

Support your child’s return to play and focus on the process and performance goals of the individual to support their long-term development, and psychosocial needs in growing confidence and independence through empowering the player.

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