Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Understanding teen 'weirdness'
by Dev Mishra, March 2nd, 2012 1:53PM
Subscribe to Youth Soccer Insider

MOST READ
TAGS:  high school boys, high school girls, youth boys, youth girls

MOST COMMENTED

By Dev K. Mishra, M.D.

Any coach who works with teenage athletes knows they will have to deal with a lot of weirdness. Biologically and psychologically, children reach puberty earlier and adulthood later. That leaves a lot of room in the middle for an extended period of awkwardness, which often leaves parents and coaches scratching their heads in disbelief.

An excellent article in The Wall Street Journal summarizes a number of new research findings, which can be useful to the coach and parent. The main new thinking is that there are two different systems in the brain and body that help to turn children into adults. The first of these systems has to do with the psychology of emotion and motivation. And the second brain system deals with control.

With regards to emotion and motivation, it turns out that teenagers do not underestimate risk, but that they overestimate rewards. Essentially, as noted in the WSJ article, teenagers find rewards more rewarding than adults do.

In an interesting study, Laurence Steinberg of Temple University did an MRI study of teenagers performing simulated risky driving maneuvers, and noted that the teens took more risk when they were being watched by another teen. The teens wanted social reward and the respect of their peers.

The second system, dealing with control, roughly translates to long-term planning. How do kids learn to do things they will need to do as adults? In the past, skills were often learned by practice, making errors, and then finding ways to correct the errors. Kids these days are expected to be “right” and have fewer chances to fail. And in the relatively long-ago past there were even apprenticeships to teach technical tasks and trades.

So what’s a coach to do? Is this just psychology-junk that has absolutely nothing to do with youth sports? Well, no.

Coaches can effectively incorporate sport psychology techniques into their coaching. An article titled “Developing Young Athletes: A Sport Psychology Based Approach to Coaching Youth Sports” offers some tips:

* Emphasize reward. Allow leadership roles by letting players lead drills.

* Emphasize peer respect. Consider allowing players to select a drill or tactic during one portion of a practice session. The coach might offer two or three drills for a designated player to select.

* Consider opportunities for mentorship. In a club, it might be possible for older players to work occasionally with younger players. In a high school team the upperclassmen can work with underclassmen.

* Allow the young athlete to provide feedback, rather than always telling them what they did right or wrong.

It’s not practical to do these every practice session, but you might be able to do at least a few of them once in a while. And the reward for you could very well be a little better performance, and a little less weirdness.

(Dev K. Mishra is the creator of the SidelineSportsDoc.com injury management program for coaches. He is an orthopedic surgeon in private practice in Burlingame, Calif. He is a member of the team physician pool with the U.S. Soccer Federation and has served as team physician at the University of California, Berkeley. This article first appeared on SidelineSportsDoc.com.)



1 comment
  1. tim francis
    commented on: March 2, 2012 at 3:10 p.m.
    Agreed and thanks! 'As one excellent teacher of teens told me his secret in one work: EMPOWER!

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Youth Soccer Insider
Should new refs be identified -- like in driver's ed?    
There are hundreds of soccer referee certification clinics held across the United States every year. Sadly, ...
Tab Ramos on new rules, U.S. progress, MLS and youth clubs     
Tab Ramos, a U.S. Hall of Famer whose playing career included three World Cups, is entering ...
Modernized NSCAA coaching courses have a touch of Mike 'Bert' Berticelli    
It was circa 1991 and I was a young high school teacher and coach in South ...
Boys Development Academy expands again -- adds U-15 division     
The U.S. Soccer Boys Development Academy, which launched in 2007 with two age groups, will be ...
Q&A with U.S. Soccer's top coach educator Nico Romeijn: On teaching the coaches    
The U.S. Soccer Federation hired Nico Romeijn of the Netherlands in June of 2015 as its ...
Troy Dayak leads thriving West Coast SC after 16 years of pro ball    
A hard-nosed defender during his 16-year pro career, mostly with the San Jose Earthquakes with which ...
Washington Youth Soccer reinstated by U.S. Youth Soccer    
In November, Washington Youth Soccer announced its aim to register its players solely with the U.S ...
The Best of 2016 in American Youth Soccer    
It wasn't all smooth sailing for American youth soccer in 2016. The turf wars between governing ...
Newcomers to USA get a boost from Soccer Without Borders: Meet founder Ben Gucciardi    
Ben Gucciardi is the founder of Soccer Without Borders, which is entering its second decade of ...
A major schism: U.S. Youth Soccer strikes back at Washington state for seeking sole USSF registration    
In response to Washington Youth Soccer announcing its quest to register its players solely with the ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives