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Late Bloomers | Boys

Research presented will paint a clear picture of what exactly classifies a late bloomer, the physiological implications of maturity in sport, the psychosocial effects of late bloomers and the implications for youth development leaders and coaches.

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Late Bloomers in Sports

Conclusion

Currently, late-bloomers are given less attention and social support than their

earlier maturing counterparts. Although it is highly unlikely that their status of delayed puberty is worrisome from a medical standpoint, it is clear that late bloomers may experience depressive symptoms, a lesser self-image and self-esteem and lower levels of enjoyment in sport. A lack of support surrounding the youth athlete and the feelings of not doing well enough may eventually lead to dropout from sport.

 

“Coaches are eager to identify the child with potential abilities in a particular

sport so that skill might be nurtured from a younger age.” (Rowland, 2005, p. 29). Although it may appear that young children who are more mature may turn out to be better athletes in the long run. Research is quite clear that there is no early predictors of sporting success or talent and more research has shown the possibilities of late-bloomers even overtaking early-bloomers. Therefore it is advantageous to not rule out an athlete.

Although it may appear that young children who are more mature may turn out to be better athletes in the long run. Research is quite clear that there is no early predictors of sporting success or talent and more research has shown the possibilities of late-bloomers even overtaking early-bloomers. Therefore it is advantageous to not rule out an athlete.
Elite athleticism aside, coaches also have a responsibility to meet the needs of the youth in the community.
-Jason Lupo

The common all eggs in one basket approach to treating more talented children with more coaching and more selective sporting programs may not lead to future sporting success and may actually lead to burnout.

Matching athletes based on skill, stature and weight as opposed to chronological age has been recommended as the best solution for youth athletes (Rowland, 2005). The idea that maturity should be taken into account when considering physical test results and grouping children for activities is mentioned by Jones et al. (2000), who suggests that it may even reduce the risk of physical and psychological insult.

 

This solution, although backed by research is not necessarily the easiest to implement and may be regarded as a privacy issue by some. It is not a hidden fact that developmental differences occur, and we can see it in classrooms and on sporting fields everywhere we go. We must remember that the primary role of a youth development leader is to promote positive youth development in the kids that we work with. Elite athleticism aside, coaches also have a responsibility to meet the needs of the youth in the community.

 

The idea of grouping athletes based on physical maturity is not likely to see

implementation any time soon, but the issue of late-bloomers in sport is not going away either. Therefore it is important that we address the issue in a way that is feasible for each and every coach and sporting program. The first solution is to create a mastery climate in sporting programs. Mastery climates are based on the belief that effort and outcomes are correlated (Valentini, Rudisill, & Goodway, 1999). Therefore instead of awarding success based on wins or podium finishes, “mastery climates are effort based, with individuals

receiving rewards for demonstrating effort, learning and improvement” (Brady, 2004, p. 40).

Secondly, coaches, parents, doctors and youth development leaders should

encourage and explain to youth that every person develops at a different rate and that eventually they will “catch up.” This may also require that doctors, coaches and other youth development leaders educate parents on the differences of developmental rates and encourage parents to support their kids and to not reinforce a win/loss mindset, because research has shown that not only does a youth’s perception of their skills and abilities effect their enjoyment of sport, but also the perceptions of coaches and parents (Scanlan & Lewthwaite, 1986).

Lastly, coaches should make comparisons based on developmental age versus

chronological age. Although exact Tanner ratings may not be available to coaches, coaches may look at stature and height to determine whether or not an athlete is developmentally close to his or her peers. Comparing an athlete to a peer who is significantly more mature may be harmful to that athlete, instead compare that athlete with his or her past results or with athletes of similar developmental ages.

References

Brady, F. (2004). Children's organized sports: A developmental perspective. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 75(2), 35-41.

Jones, M., Hitchen, P., & Stratton, G. (2000). The importance of considering biological maturity when assessing physical fitness measures in girls and boys aged 10 to 16 years. Annals of Human Biology, 27(1), 57-65.

Rowland, T. W. (2005). Children's exercise physiology Human Kinetics Champaign, IL.

Scanlan, T. K., & Lewthwaite, R. (1986). Social psychological aspects of competition for male youth sport participants: IV. predictors of enjoyment. Journal of Sport Psychology, 8(1), 25-35.

Valentini, N. C., Rudisill, M. E., & Goodway, J. D. (1999). Incorporating a mastery climate into physical education: It's developmentally appropriate! Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 70(7), 28-32.

Tags: Late Bloomer Symptoms, late bloomer meaning, early bloomer vs late bloomer puberty, late bloomer growth spurt

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