Study suggests youth coaches can motivate without emphasizing winning


Coaches can motivate youth athletes to achieve their goals in a positive way as opposed to emphasizing success and winning at all costs, according to a recent University of Washington study.

The study consisted of questionnaires given to 243 9- to 13-year-old basketball players from two different Seattle (Wash.) youth leagues. Sport psychologists involved in the study claim that coaches can change youth athletes’ goals for achievement in a healthy way by creating what they refer to as a mastery motivational climate, as opposed to an ego oriented one.

A mastery climate involves positive communication between coaches and youth athletes and emphasizes things such as teamwork and doing one's best. An ego climate is similar to that of many professional sports teams, where the focus is constantly placed on winning at all costs and personal successes.

The study results also indicated that athletes who play for coaches who used a mastery climate displayed greater enjoyment of basketball as the season progressed; whereas the opposite occurred among kids playing for coaches who used an ego-oriented style.

Researchers involved in the study had previously published results from the same project that correlated lower levels of anxiety with athletes who played for coaches with a mastery climate leadership style.

National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) Chapter Directors and Clinicians can ensure that their coaches are maintaining a mastery motivational climate throughout the season by utilizing the useful NAYS Chapter Management features assessable through With these features administrators can make sure that coaches are receiving proper background checks, training, and evaluations, and that they are being held accountable for their actions with a swift behavioral enforcement procedure.
Log on to access these valuable NAYS Chapter Management features at

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