ABSTRACT

This chapter examines aspects of the involvement of young athletes in team contact sports. It begins with a discussion of some of the difficulties that arise when adult models of sport are imposed on children’s and youth sports. These include, for example, problems associated with a coach’s emphasis on winning, young athletes’ attitudes to the use of unsanctioned aggression and violence, and the moral responsibility of the coach. The chapter goes on to explain how reversal theory’s metamotivational concepts can be used as a basis for developing optimal learning experiences for young athletes. In addition, it describes how young athletes learn to enjoy physical contact and charts the stages involved in this process, as well as providing an explanation of the psychological changes that accompany them. Finally, the problem of injuries involving young athletes in team contact sport is discussed, using the introduction of additional safety measures in Canadian ice hockey to illustrate how unexpected outcomes may occur.