Foster, D., Maynard, I., Butt, J., & Hays, K. (2015). Delivery of Psychological Skills Training to Youngsters. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 1-16.

by Rachel Webb

The need for more research using psychological skills training (PST) on nonelite and younger athletes has been growing in recognition the past few years. This particular study looks at sport psychologists’ experiences of working with children and adolescents to understand how psychological skills training has previously been delivered and should be delivered to this population (Foster, Maynard, Butt, & Hays, 2015). This population of youth athletes is especially vulnerable to not only development of their physical performance skills, but also their psychological development. Although performance enhancement is an important goal for a sport psychologist to attain, this research looks at the broader issues of personal development as more impactful for these younger athletes. There has been investment in the idea of using a child-centered theoretical approach or philosophy in the attempt to establish a good relationship wit with the child, seemingly one of the more important factors in getting this population to listen. There are also suggested discussed on interventions based on this child perspective that reflect work that would be most effective in learning at this age. Considering past research this study attempts to use a holistic view that may allow for a stronger connection between physical achievements in sport to positive characteristics of the self. There are biopsychosoical factors that must be acknowledge in the development of youth at this stage on their life based on the unique challenges they face. There are multifaceted explanations for possible performance decrements for this population therefore the focus is brought to the exploration of sport psychology consultants when working with this group and how SPC’s can adjust content and delivery of PST to reflect those unique developmental challenges.

Changes were reported in terms of four areas, consultancy skills, changes based on how SPCs relate to youngsters, refinements to delivery mediums, and strategies for maintaining engagement (Foster, Maynard, Butt, & Hays, 2015). The two main conclusions from this work were constructed. First it was imperative that the practitioner matched the content of their intervention with the immediate characteristics of the athlete and encompassed the diversity or biopsychosocial needs of the youngster. Second was geared towards interventions being multifaceted rather than simply scaled-down versions of adult interventions. In order to achieve the greatest amount of effectiveness for these young athletes it is necessary to adjust the content and delivery to operating under a holistic framework. The implications of this study have a vast reach, but ultimately being capable of highlighting excellence through life skills development in addition to performance will create the most successful results for these youngsters. Building these initial psychological skills could have greater effects when they are being revisited later in the athletes’ career, on top of the already implemented developmental skills you have taught them.