Friday, March 20, 2015

Competitiveness in Youth Sports

In today’s society, every parent wants their child to be on the winning team and they also want them playing for the majority of the game.   Through their cooperative efforts, many parents are productive contributors to youth sport experiences, however the negative effects of a rather small minority of parents are all too obvious. This though balance makes it very difficult for coaches to keep parents happy while working with the athletes.
Even in youth sports, games can become competitive for the players, coaches and parents. In most games, the winner is determined by whichever team scores the most amount of points. Although this may seem like the logical answer, many coaches strive to teach winning as working together as a team and trying their hardest at skills they have practiced to improve. Some athletes may play with a “winning is everything” philosophy, young athletes may lose opportunities to develop their skills, to enjoy participation, and to grow socially and emotionally if they get too caught up in winning.1  It is important for a coach to keep a close eye on their players and know how each player views their position on the team.

There are many goals of coaches in youth sports in order for the young athletes to benefit as both an athlete and a human.  There are many principles that can be tied together such as the real world and sports.  An important factor is good teamwork.  A successful team at all levels requires the players to work together towards their goal.   Some other benefits are physical, such as acquiring sport skills and increasing health and fitness.  Others are psychological, such as developing leadership skills, self-discipline, respect for authority, competitiveness, cooperativeness, sportsmanship, and self-confidence.1 While these are important factors to teach during practice, the real test comes during the game.

It seems that today’s society is focusing more on the people and teams at the top of the charts than ever before. This has led to coaches and players that want to win, which is a major part of all sporting events.  However sometimes this can get the best of them.  Everyone knows of the youth sporting event where one team destroyed the other team winning 100-3.   Some people have suggested that youth sports need to defocus competitiveness and aggression and encourage cooperative games that involve cooperative efforts toward a goal and emphasize the process, not the outcome.2 This may be a real possibility and will only be changed by the future coaches to come.  Youth sports have made a major impact on young athletes all across the country and it is important to keep good sports programs going.

1Smoll, F., Cumming, S. & Smith, R. (2011). Enhancing Coach-Parent Relationships in Youth Sports: Increasing Harmony and Minimizing Hassle. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching. 6(1) 13-26

2Ramsey, G., & Rank, B. (1997). Research Update. Rethinking Youth Sports. Parks and Recreation. 32(12) 30-36


  1. I think the two of the most important factors in young youth sports is that of 1. teaching proper sportsmanship and 2. teaching the fundamental skills that are needed for each particular sport. Winning is important but at a young age that should not be the number 1 priority that is being taught to kids at such a young age. Sports can teach multiple different, but important character traits that all young youth kids need to learn and acquire.

  2. I regards to the blog, competitive youth sports is usually inevitable. There will be those players that won't thrive on teamwork but defeating their opponent. Their teammates will see this and be influenced by it as well. I believe being a coach is truly a difficult job. Bonding teammates and making them work together is one of the toughest thing a coach has to do. Winning games is not the important thing to start with. It's having the players work together as a whole that will determine the outcome of games.

  3. This hits home a little bit considering I have a young nephew in youth sports and my uncles little girl is as well. The first years they have even taken away the incentive of scoring and winning, everyone does a good job and gets a trophy. That isn't as apparent in the older groups. At such a young age I feel like these kids need to learn sportsmanship, teamwork, the basics, and of course to have fun. It seems like every year younger and younger age groups are getting pressured to be good and be the best but in reality that isn't everything especially at such a young age.