Evidence-Based Policies for Youth Sport Programmes
Hancock, David J.
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Youth sport involvement can lead to outcomes classified as the 3Ps: performance, participation and personal development. The 3Ps are central to youth sport systems aimed at providing quality experiences to participants. A challenge for countries and national governing bodies is structuring sport to simultaneously facilitate the achievement of excellence and participation or the 3Ps. To illustrate this challenge, consider deliberate practice, which is an important activity for performance improvements, but also considered less enjoyable and less motivating compared to other sport activities, such as play. Thus, governing bodies often face the challenge of deciding which activities they intend to emphasize (e.g., early specialization directed at talent development or early diversification aimed at increasing participation), and this can have implications for the success/failure of the 3Ps. The purpose of this article is to describe an inclusive sport structure for children (under age 13) targeting the development of the 3Ps, which would be an asset to sport scientists, policymakers and practitioners. Common goals for the 3Ps include the following: avoid burnout/dropout, cultivate intrinsic motivation and maximize involvement in various sport activities. Our contention is the 3Ps can coexist under one system when that system is structured according to the age and competitive level of participants. The Developmental Model of Sport Participation and its seven postulates will be used as the basis of this article to provide evidence-based policies for children in sport.