An Exploration of Sociometric Status and Peer Relations in Youth Sport
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More than 10 years ago, it was suggested that sociometry and systematic observation were two potentially useful but under-utilized methods for the study of peers in youth sport (Smith, 2003). Despite this call, the methods used to study peers in sport remain largely focused on athletes' perceptions through questionnaires and interviews. Thus, the purpose of this descriptive study was to investigate the utility of sociometry in relation to sport competence and observed athlete behavior in youth sport. Three adolescent female volleyball teams were videotaped during three practice sessions, and sport competence and sociometric status were assessed using questionnaires. An observational coding system was developed and used to code athlete behaviors and data were compared across sociometric status groups. Results revealed significant differences between sociometric status groups on peer ratings of sport competence, but not on athlete behavior. However, interesting findings emerged with respect to how status groups interacted with teammates and coaches. Thus, sport competence seems to be an important factor in gaining acceptance among youth peer groups. Further, sociometry and behavioral observation appear to be useful techniques that should continue to be employed in the study of peer relations in youth sport.