"A great sports car that goes from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds is just a fact. To the wrong audience, it’s irrelevant. But to the right audience, it’s a passion.” - David Brier
Coaches and parents, creating a HP based sports environment includes the following:
Activity Selection: Parents, help your children find their sport of interest by having them participate in a wide range of sports. This exposure will help them determine things like whether they prefers a team based sport or individual based sports; types of sports, stick and ball, endurance, combat, strength and agility, or racket sports; and contact vs non-contact based sports.
Long Term Development of Athletes and Helping Them Find Their Sport
Between the ages of three and six, kids should be introduced to a variety of sports activities. This isn’t
the time to dream of your child being the next Tiger Woods or Serena Williams. It’s more important
that your child build up the necessary strength, balance, and agility by participating in different types
As your child gets older, roughly between seven and 10 years of age, you can start narrowing down
participation to seasonal participation, like soccer in the fall, swimming in the winter, tennis in the
spring, and golf in the summer. It’s during this time that kids will continue to developed the base
strength, balance, and agility.
Between the ages of 10 and 13, kids are more apt to choose their seasonal sports and start focusing
more on specific technical skills development. During this time, the focus of sports should be on
having fun, learning, and effort; and not on the pressure to be the best and on winning. At this age, a
focus on success and winning will only lead to an OP based approach and likely loss of motivation to
participate. Research has shown that 80% of kids who participate in sports at an early age retire by
the age of 13.
By their mid teenage years, roughly age 15-17, kids will usually settle into a primary sport and possibly
one to two secondary sports. By age 17 athletes is about the time student-athletes choose to
specialize in a single sport.
*For more information on this, refer to the My Philosophy section of the webpage to learn more
about athletic and social development.
**Of note, when athletes decide to specialize in a sport, athletes tend to have a window of eight years
where they produce or reach peak performance. Sport specialization includes more dedicated time to
one sport, like joining a high school club team to participate in a sport year around and working with
specialized trainers to find tune physical and technical skills specific to their sport. For more
information, read our blogs on periodized training.
2. Activity Valuation: This is the subjective importance an individual places on an activity. The more
value the sport has to the athlete, the more the athlete will make it part of her/his identity. Thus,
making the athlete more passionate about it.
The value of a given activity, in this case, sports, depends on the experience that is provided. While
winning and success are fun, it’s the life lessons, support, camaraderie, effort, improvement, and
feeling of ownership that not only makes it fun, it makes it meaningful and purposeful.
Parents and coaches, it’s important to model and teach with autonomous support. This includes being
non-controlling and supportive of your child’s participation.
Coaches, this starts by creating clear expectations, i.e., why it’s important to show up at practice
and how everyone contributes to the team. Also, by taking the time to assess an athlete's physical,
technical, tactical, and mental abilities, coaches can create individual plans to more effectively develop
the athletes they coach, e.g., creating a periodized training plan. Lastly, teach and allow athletes to
provide input on decisions in practice and games, not only builds confidence, it shows true autonomy.
Parents, explain your expectations for sport participation, like attend every practice, learn, commit to
playing the whole season, create new friendships, display good sportsmanship, put forth your full and
best effort, and have fun. Your role as parents are to get them to practice on time, cheer for them on
the sidelines, listen to them, be their shoulder to cry on, be their biggest cheerleaders, allow them to
fall in love with their sport for their own reasons, and let the coaches coach.
3. Internalization of Activity:
Will an athlete develop a Harmonious or Obsessive Passion for sport? In either case, an athlete will be
influenced by their social environment (e.g., parents, coaches, peers, etc…) and by personal factors
(e.g., personality and a draw toward individual vs team sports).
Athletes tend to model the behavior and culture of the program and coaches they are playing for.
They also model the behaviors of their parents and peers as well. It’s for these reasons that parents
and coaches model the right behaviors that promote harmonious passion, at all levels of sports.
Coaches and parents, take inventory of the things that are most important to you, and make sure that
you are in fact modeling and teach from your core values.
Focus on achievement goals or competence based goals to cultivate Harmonious Passion:
As coaches, take time to cultivate relationships with your athletes. Secondly, focus on mastery of sport, rather than on outcomes like winning and success defined by outcomes.
As parents, allow your child to find a sport and own their sport:
At an early age, expose your child to a wide variety of sports. Allow them to choose the sport(s) they are passionate about. Early on, this could change frequently.
The goal should be that they play because they enjoy it, not because you as a parent want them to do it, think they are talented at it, or because a coach sees potential for them to be highly successful.
As stated earlier, athletes needs to feel autonomy within their sport and everything else they do. This should be reflected by you as parents. If you talk the talk, make sure to walk the walk!
Harmonious Passion happens when your child chooses to play, improve, and exert maximum effort because she/he play for the moment, not because it will lead to a college scholarship or an opportunity to be a professional athlete.
Ultimately, the goal is to create an atmosphere where athletes learn to support and encourage each other. Be it individual based sports or team based sports, it comes down to creating a supportive community of coaches, athletes, and parents. Remember, friendship is the best influence!