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Part 6: Stages of Athletic and Social Development

Updated: Sep 24, 2019

In part five of the six part series, we examined the early adulthood years. Socially, this is the time where young adults focus on intimacy and love in relationships. It's about sharing and building trusted relationships that help solidify one's identity. As athletes, this is the point in time when they are competing full time and they are training and playing to win.



In part six, we will examine the later years of adulthood. Socially, this is the time of giving back and passing down knowledge to the next generation. It is also a time of reflecting on one's accomplishments and regrets. Athletically, the highly competitive days are behind you. The hope is that over time, you have created and maintained healthy habits to stay physically active.

5) Active for Life and Giving Back (Ages 30+)

Erickson Stage 7 (Generativity versus Stagnation, age 40-60) and Erickson Stage 8 (Integrity versus Despair, ages 60 to the end of life); LTAD Stage 7 (Active for Life, any age)

Erickson Stage 7 (Generativity versus Stagnation, age 40-60) is the process of helping to develop the next generation in hopes that they are able to live meaningful lives. One example, when adults choose to become parents. Erikson stated that parents need children as much as children need parents; and if this crisis is not resolved, then that person will remain self-centered and experience stagnation (McLeod, 2013).

Erickson Stage 8 (Integrity versus Despair, 60 to the end of life) is the process of looking back and evaluating your life. At this stage adults reflect on past accomplishments and failures to determine whether they have lived a fulfilling life or one filled with regret and lost opportunities. If an adult has achieved a sense of fulfillment about life and a sense of unity with others, then he or she accepts death with a sense of integrity. Erickson stated, “Just as a healthy child will not fear life, the healthy adult will not fear death (McLeod, 2013).”

LTAD Stage 7 (Active for Life, any age) is the goal for long term athletic development – creating lifelong athletes or people who exercise to be healthy, happy, and active from childhood to adulthood. Active for life as a philosophy that stresses lifelong participation in sports and other activities is not just for elite athletes, but for all adults if we want to promote better health and wellness (

Giving Back

At this point in a person’s life, he/she has mastered certain skills and is now looking to pass his/her knowledge on to the next generation. In sports, it’s common to see former athletes “pay it forward” or to give back by serving as coaches, mentors, administrators, officials, and policy makers in sport.

Life Lessons

Being active for life starts by developing a comfort and love for sports and physical activity. The greatest gift we can give our kids is to teach them to be physically active in life. Participating in sports provides a wealth of knowledge and experience that athletes can reference when faced with difficult situations or when they set goals that are difficult to attain, be it in a sport or other situations in life. In the end, this is why we want our kids to participate in sports: we want them to learn what it means to work hard, what it takes to be successful, what it means to fail, what it means to experience set backs, and how to overcome set backs and challenges.

My belief is that as parents, the hope is that sports help to teach our children:

“To bear defeat with dignity, to accept criticism with poise, to receive honors with humility – these are marks of maturity and graciousness.”

- William Arthur Ward


At the end of the day, it is good to have dreams and aspirations for our children, but it is vitally important to make sure that our kids enjoy just playing in the moment, and that we, as parents, are allowing them to develop physically and emotionally at their own pace. Remember, like all things in life, sports and being physically active is a process.

Things to Remember:

1. Research all avenues and make the best-informed decision as it relates to a particular sport, the organizations/teams in those sports, and the coaches. Find out what their mission is and how they support the development of the athlete.

2. Listen and observe your child-athlete to see if they are enjoying their sport(s) and if they are connecting with coaches and teammates.

3. Stay grounded in the present moment. Don’t get carried away thinking about your child’s future in the sport, or with the potential that you and/or others see in your child.

4. Wear one hat at a time. Parents wear many hats or have multiple identities that include being parents to your kids; being a son or daughter; being a brother or sister; being a working professional, and there may even be times you coach your kids in their sport. To be fully present for our kids, we need to wear one hat at a time. For example, if you are watching your child play their sport, you need to be there as the parent or spectator to cheer your kid on and support them. If you get caught up wearing multiple hats, like being a parent and trying to be the coach from the sidelines, you send mixed messages that can cause confusion and resentment from your child. As a high performance coach, when I ask athletes who they love to have in the bleachers at competitions, the number one answer is grandparents. They say that grandma or grandpa just come to watch and always tend to say, “We just love watching you play!”

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