Late Adolescence (~18-25)
As athletes become more independent, clearer on where they want to go, and can see the bigger picture better, they are more likely to ask ‘why’ they are doing certain things in their training. To help with this, explain exactly why you are asking an athlete to do something and give them the opportunity to reflect and ask questions. There is a strong desire/need for athletes at this age to be self-directed and independent.
Therefore, athletes are ready to assume responsibility and accept the consequences of their actions. To help encourage this, emphasise goal setting to give direction and purpose. Furthermore, encourage athletes to take a lead in their training and squad’s performance (i.e. ask them to input into training structure).
Furthermore, due to information processing skills becoming more developed, the use of mental skills can be useful to help refine their athletic skills. For example, encourage athletes to visualise what they are asked to do in training, focusing on good execution and performance.
At this age, athletes are more capable of self-analysis and correcting/refining their skills but as high-performance athletes it easy to be overly self-critical, so make sure you ask them what was ‘good’ in their performance as well as what could be improved.
At this time of life, athletes may have major life decisions to make and increases in self-actualisation and expression mean their interests may change. For example, they may be considering higher education, careers, moving away from home, entering long-term relationships even having children. Therefore, it is important to support your athletes to make informed decisions (e.g. provide professional guidance on careers). If you can, help your athletes weigh up the pros and cons of their decisions. It’s important to enable a sense of balance athletes are people first and need well rounded identities to flourish and succeed in life (help them win deep, not shallow).
During late adolescence growth rates gradually plateau then stop. This is the perfect opportunity to refine and optimize sport specific skills and movement patterns. At this stage, physical development will be influenced less by growth and maturation status, rather directed by the needs of the individual in preparing for the demands of the sport and their position.
How might you encourage athletes to recognise the ‘good’ in their performance?
What opportunities do you have to develop a player’s autonomy and independence in your environment?
How might you support a player to pursue and develop their interests and identity outside of netball?