Just for the fun of it: Coaches’ perceptions of an exemplary recreational youth basketball program

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Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy






Taylor & Francis

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Background: A growing body of research has studied sport as a vehicle for positive youth development (PYD). While much of this research has investigated the developmental outcomes associated with sport participation, less is known about the mechanisms through which PYD occurs in a sport context. Further, much of the research on PYD in sport has studied competitive sport settings, while comparatively less is known about recreational sport. Aims: This qualitative descriptive study explored coaches’ perceptions of a successful recreational community youth basketball league. Specifically, this study aimed to describe coaches’ perceptions of the structure of the league, the developmental outcomes associated with youth’s participation in this sport program, as well as the mechanisms through which these outcomes are realized. Participants: A total of 12 volunteer basketball coaches (6 males and 6 females) were purposefully selected to participate in this study. The coaches were between 16 and 59 years old, had an average of 10.1 years of coaching experience, and 6 of the coaches previously played in the league in their youth. Data collection: Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with each basketball coach. Data analysis: The interviews were transcribed verbatim and subjected to a thematic analysis that was driven by both the data and extant PYD conceptual frameworks. Findings: Identified themes were integrated into an existing PYD conceptual framework. These themes related to immediate (e.g. enjoyment), short-term (e.g. competence, confidence, connection, and character), and long-term developmental outcomes (e.g. contribution), as well as social and contextual processes (e.g. activities, social relationships, and settings) which underpin these outcomes. Conclusion: This study extended the current body of research on PYD in sport through emphasizing the importance of ensuring that youth have enjoyable, positive immediate experiences in sport, and that accumulated positive experiences result, over time, in lasting effects on athletes’ development.

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