Relational developmental systems and PYD in sport: A metatheoretical perspective


The study of PYD in sport has utilized a broad range of theoretical orientations and conceptual approaches. While this variety has generated a wealth of productive research, it has arguably resulted in relatively fragmented field, one that is also generally divorced from the wider discipline of developmental science. This presentation will present the relational developmental systems (RDS: Lerner, 2006; Overton & Mueller, 2012) concept as a comprehensive metatheoretical understanding of the human development process and how it relates to youth sport research. RDS understandings of development involve the relational integration of multiple levels of organization, with a focus on plasticity and intra-individual change driven by mutually influential individual-context relations as developmental regulations through time. As such, individual-context relations represent the fundamental units of analysis in human development research, necessitating both multidisciplinarity and change-sensitive methodologies. I will suggest that RDS represents an umbrella under which to integrate a diverse array of existing youth sport research toward a more cohesive phenomenological understanding, as well as an opportunity to drive future research. Further, I propose that an RDS-informed conceptualization of PYD in sport can potentially help better link our field's work with the wider discipline of developmental science while showing where we, as youth sport researchers, can and are actually leading the way on a number of fronts.