Posted 11/15/2019 in Category 1 by Life-in-Sport

Social Comparison in Youth Sport

Social Comparison in Youth Sport

During Early to mid childhood children start to distinguish multiple domains of ability (physical competence, academic competence, social competence, physical appearance, behavioural conduct) and develop an overall sense of self worth based on those five domains. Thus young athletes’ sport competence beliefs help to inform their overall self-esteem.  This may be a critical period for those working in youth sport to reinforce to athletes what they are good at and provide opportunities for success to increase young people’s perceived sport competence and ultimately self-esteem. Sport related encouragement and instructional feedback is especially important for 9-10 year old girls showing signs of early physical maturation.  

Late childhood to early adolescence (11-14yrs old) – during this stage, youth athletes develop a fully differentiated view of effort and ability, further allowing them to compare their abilities to others as a source of competence information.  

Social comparison is inherent in many competitive sport setting (e.g. who will win? Who will get the best score?) which may lead athletes to focus solely on winning to feel successful.  We can remind young athletes that there are multiple ways to demonstrate success, such as achieving a personal best or giving 100 per cent effort. Pointing out ability to integrate multiple sources of feedback moving into adolescence.  


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