A holistic understanding of PYD in sport: The consideration of developmental context and time


Despite the flourishing body of literature on young athletes' personal development through sport, there a remains a lack of consensus on how to conceptualize and measure positive youth development (PYD). Indeed, youth sport programs can vary considerably in terms of their goals, structure, and consequently, in youth's sport experiences. It can also be argued that youth sport programs can help to facilitate PYD in many different ways; for example, equivocal evidence exists supporting both the implicit and explicit approaches to the transfer of life skills learned in sport (Turnnidge, Hancock, & Côté, 2014). The diverse nature of youth sport therefore calls for a developmental context that conceptualizes PYD as the interaction of three key elements: personal engagement in activities, quality relationships, and appropriate settings. This presentation will focus on the consideration of developmental context across time by reviewing findings from four studies of a community youth basketball program of approximately 500 boys and girls aged 8-14. These studies incorporate both quantitative (e.g., systematic observation) and qualitative (e.g., ethnography) methodologies, and collectively suggest that the mechanisms through which PYD occurs is dependent on the nature of a given developmental context. In addition, the specific PYD outcomes resulting from sport participation can be conceptualized on multiple timescales, and are again contingent on the developmental context in which sport take place. These concepts will be situated within the Personal Assets Framework for Sport (Côté, Turnnidge, & Vierimaa, in press), and implications for future research and practice in youth sport will be presented.