Exploring sport coaching and psychology
Exploring sport coaching and psychology

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4 Maintaining enthusiasm in a professional sport

Think of young people training towards some professional team sports, especially football, tennis and golf. Organisations and clubs often attempt to identify promising young players before puberty: an almost impossible task to get right (Bailey, 2015). This can result in children sometimes undertaking formal coaching starting at 8–12 years old. In football, this happens across all English Premier League (EPL) clubs, as there is often a perceived parental prestige from a child being recruited to an EPL academy. Notice how adult ego might interrupt childhood enthusiasm.

Activity 4 Football academies main focus

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Listen to this clip from a telephone interview with Ged Roddy (Director of Youth, EPL). What are his two main points about maintaining youthful enthusiasm in the training of children in football?

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Discussion

One clear message Roddy describes is maintaining a passion for their sport, but he does not specifically describe how this is done. Alongside this, he identifies creating a thirst for learning as being important throughout a successful professional career. This links to a ‘growth mindset’ (Dweck, 2012), which you will explore further in Session 5.

You probably know intuitively that enjoyment of sport and training is key to motivation but, apart from the inspiring tennis coach you read about earlier, you have yet to clearly see how fun and enjoyment is created in children’s sport.

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