Positioning the coaching of life skills development and transfer on a continuum of intentionality


Understanding the variables within program delivery that facilitate positive developmental outcomes, including life skills development, is a key area of interest within youth sport research (Holt, 2016; Holt et al., 2017). One such variable is intentionality, which in the context of youth sport is defined as referring to the extent to which deliberate decisions are made by coaches and sport organizations to create concrete opportunities intended to maximize developmental outcomes (Walker, Marczak, Blyth, & Borden, 2005). In previous work (i.e., Turnnidge, Côté, & Hancock, 2014), the coaching of life skills has been positioned as dichotomous, with developmental approaches being either implicit (i.e., non-intentional) or explicit (i.e., intentional). To date, the dichotomous framing of life skills development and transfer approaches has perhaps served to undermine the complexity of these processes. In response, Bean, Kramers, Forneris, and Camiré (2018) have proposed a model conceptualizing the coaching of life skills along a continuum of intentionality. Within the Implicit/Explicit Continuum of Life Skills Development and Transfer, it is posited that life skills development and transfer can occur across six levels of intentionality: (a) structuring the sport context, (b) facilitating a positive climate, (c) discussing life skills, (d) practicing life skills, (e) discussing transfer, and (f) practicing transfer. These six levels are grounded in the sport psychology literature and will be discussed throughout the presentation. Conceptually, researchers can use the continuum to empirically situate how coaches teach life skills. Practically, the continuum can help coaches frame their approach to life skills development and transfer.