Positive Youth Development and Citizenship Behaviors in Young Athletes: U.S. and Canadian Coaches’ Perspectives


  • Robert C. Hilliard West Virginia University
  • Lindsey C. Blom Ball State University
  • Mariah Sullivan Ball State University




psychosocial, positive youth development, life skills


It has been argued that sport is a way for youth to develop psychosocial skills that lead to holistic development. However, participation itself in sport does not lead to this growth; mechanisms for growth must be intentional, often conducted by coaches. Thus, the purpose of this descriptive study was to understand the integration of positive youth development concepts of citizenship into youth sport organizations. One hundred five coaches from the United States and Canada completed an online survey created by the researchers and comprising preexisting measures and newly devised questions. The coaches most heavily emphasized a mastery climate focusing on effort and having fun and emphasized winning the least. Additionally, coaches perceived their youth athletes to learn respect for others, teamwork, and respect for self at the highest rates through participation in their program. Regarding specific techniques for developing citizenship, participants provided many concrete examples in open responses: creating leadership development opportunities for girls in their organization, having league homework programs, and running food drives. Research has identified time as a major barrier to the implementation of opportunities for the explicit transfer of citizenship skills, and the participants provided several methods of growth that are not time intensive. The practical implications and limitations of the results are discussed.

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