Too much pressure and criticism harm athletes' potential
In a new study examining how much psychological and physical characteristics matter in the development of young athletes, psychologist Shari Kuchenbecker,Ph.D., and co-authors from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles found that psychological factors were most important in achieving athletic success. And too much pressure and criticism were the most harmful to a young athlete's development. These findings will be presented at the 107th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in Boston.
"The number one quality that coaches see as a real winner is loving to play the sport," said Dr. Kuchenbecker. "Having a positive attitude, being coachable, self-motivated and being a team player followed as the next top attributes of winning athletes."
"Many young athletes have negative forces motivating them to succeed in sports, like pleasing their parents, getting a college scholarship or fitting into the various jock cliques at school," said Dr. Kuchenbecker. "This study shows that the coaches who teach these children about sports create winners by emphasizing the positive personal development of the young athlete. It is an important reminder to parents, coaches and educators of the healthy function sports play in the overall development of young people."
Dr. Kuchenbecker and her co-authors discovered this by asking 658 coaches (75% male and 25% female) of young athletes (between 3-22 years old) who participate in 43 sports to characterize a young athlete of winning potential from a list of 64 physical and 64 psychological characteristics.
Coaches across the board emphasized the importance of psychological factors
as essential for athletic success in young people. "This was true for the youth
athletic coaches (American Youth Soccer Organization [AYSO], club and high
Contact: Pam Willenz
American Psychological Association