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Youth Enrichment in Sports: An Applied Sport Psychology Perspective

“If it hadn’t been for sports, I wouldn’t have grown up hating my father.” - Quote from a 40-Year-Old Man

Youth sports are a firmly established part of societies around the world, and they directly touch the lives of millions of children, adolescents, and adults. In the United States alone it is estimated that about 60.3 million youngsters 6-to-18 years of age participate in agency-sponsored sports, such as Little League Baseball, the American Youth Soccer Organization, and the Boys and Girls Clubs. Additionally, about 7.5 million youth (4.4 million males, 3.1 million females) participate in high school sports.

The growth of youth sport programs during the past half-century has been dramatic in scope, but not without dispute. Much of the debate concerns the roles that coaches and parents play. To resolve some of the controversy, Drs. Ronald E. Smith and Frank L. Smoll have carried out a program of research and development that has spanned more than three decades.

How Can Coaches and Parents Improve Youth Sports?

Beginning in the early 1970s, Professors Smith and Smoll co-directed a project that is now known as Youth Enrichment in Sports (YESports). The objective of the project is to develop, evaluate, and deliver child-centered educational programs for coaches and parents—instructional offerings that ultimately serve to benefit young athletes. Supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and the William T. Grant Foundation, their approach illustrates what is called “evidence-based practice” in the field of medicine. At every stage of the process, scientific research played a key role in developing YESports interventions.

Photo of Frank Smoll
Dr. Frank Smoll
Dr. Ron Smith
Dr. Ron Smith

YESports training programs are designed to help coaches and parents create a mastery climate—a learning environment that emphasizes skill development, personal and team success, maximum effort, and fun. In both academic and sport settings, a wide range of salutary outcomes have been linked to a mastery climate.

What is the Mastery Approach to Coaching?

In their basic and applied research, Smith and Smoll developed the Mastery Approach to Coaching (MAC), which is the only scientifically validated coaching education workshop that has been shown to have the following outcomes:

  • Fosters positive coach-athlete relations and greater mutual respect
  • Increases the amount of fun that athletes experience
  • Creates greater team cohesion and a more supportive athletic setting
  • Promotes higher mastery-oriented achievement goals in sports and in school
  • Increases athletes’ self-esteem
  • Reduces performance-destroying anxiety and fear of failure
  • Decreases athlete dropout rates from approximately 30% to 5%
  • Produces equally positive effects on boys and girls teams

Where Have MAC Workshops Been Presented?

More than 25,000 youth sport coaches have participated in some 500 workshops in the United States and Canada. Workshops have been presented to volunteer coaches in a variety of sport-specific organizations (e.g., Little League Baseball, Washington Youth Soccer, Minnesota Hockey) and multi-sport organizations (e.g., Catholic Youth Organization, Boys and Girls Clubs, community recreation departments). The program has also been offered as in-service training for PE teachers and coaches in public school districts.

What is the Biggest Problem in Youth Sports?

When asked this question, administrators and coaches almost unanimously agree. It’s parents! Although problem parents may be a small minority, their impact can be huge. Because of this, the Smith-Smoll team developed the Mastery Approach to Parenting in Sports (MAPS) so that mothers and fathers can learn to make positive contributions. The research-based workshop for parents complements the one for coaches and is designed to get the two groups of adults “on the same page.”

What are the MAC and MAPS Self-Instructional Programs?

The MAC and MAPS workshops were recently transformed into self-instructional DVD format. The 66- and 45-minute programs are specifically designed to teach mastery-oriented principles with the aid of animated graphics, photos, and embedded videos.

How will the Mastery Approach DVDs be disseminated? Drs. Smith and Smoll are working to find corporate and foundation sponsors to deliver the training—free of charge—to youth sport organizations nationwide.

Where is More Information About YESports Available?

The YESports project website contains summaries of Smith’s and Smoll’s research articles, expanded descriptions of the Mastery Approach programs, and video previews of the MAC and MAPS DVDs (www.y-e-sports.com).

Psychology Staff Members in Community Service

Meet three Psychology Department staff members who are sharing their time and talents, volunteering in their communities.

Junior the jaguar plays with enrichments prepared by zoo volunteer Jamie Campanelli
Junior the jaguar plays with enrichments
prepared by zoo volunteer Jamie Campanelli

Jamie Campanelli, an animal technician for the Department for the past twelve years, credits that experience in facilitating his volunteer work at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo.  Jamie began volunteering at the Woodland Park Zoo after spending many hours observing the male and female jaguars, Junior and Nayla, for a school research project.  As he got to know the keeper staff, volunteers, zoo administration, and many of the regular guests, he saw daily evidence of the dedication to conservation and education efforts and was inspired to get involved.  “I felt that I wanted to contribute to an organization that did so much to preserve habitats and species while educating the public by providing a venue to connect with the larger world community as well as threatened species and habitats," says Jamie.  He continues that "a personal connection with species otherwise out of reach can engender concern for the environment and motivate conservation.”  Thanks to his experience in animal husbandry, Jamie was placed as an animal unit volunteer.  He prepared regular diets and enrichments for the jaguars, ocelots, golden lion tamarins, colobus monkeys, lemurs, and many more.  Due to his experience and efficient work, he was soon given the opportunity to help with additional keeper duties.  Jamie looks forward to resuming a seasonal paid position at the zoo that grew out of his volunteer activities and his passion for the work.

Merly Jones and Friends
Merly Jones and friends; Cecille, Lily, Chona,
and Gemma in the Philippines

In August, Merly Jones, Payroll Coordinator and her daughter spent thee weeks visiting the Province of Leyte in Merly's native Philippines. Their trip included visiting family, sponsoring a town fiesta, and joining four high school friends in volunteering at an orphanage.  The experience, which was deeply moving for Merly, gave her the opportunity to work alongside old friends - some she had not seen since her high school graduation - and to give back to her home community.  While Merly says that the orphanage staff "seemed to be doing the best they can with limited resources," she was happy to be able to brighten their day by delivering a special meal for the children.  She and her sisters prepared fried chicken (a special request from the children) to serve along with ice cream.  Flying home from the Philippines, Merly revisted the highlights of her journey.  Touched by the children's stories, their innocence, and their hunger for love, affection and acceptance, Merly looked to the future.  "I can't wait to return to the Philippines to continue the charity work with my high school friends," says Merly, who shares a favorite quote from Henry David Thoreau:  Kindness to children, love for children, goodness to children - these are the only investments that never fail.

Vicky Burke
Vicky Burke

Psychology Department academic advisor Vicky Burke draws upon her natural talents, as well as her experience and training, to help some of the communities most vulnerable people.  Through four different volunteer positions, Vicky brings her strong listening skills, problem solving abilities and empathy to people in need.  Working with the Seattle Police Department's Victim Support Team, Vicky and a partner serve as city-wide on call advocates for victims of domestic violence and other crisis.  This program provides direct service to victims during the weekend when the professional victim advocates are unavailable.  As a fundraiser for TreeHouse for Kids, an organization that supports children in Seattle area foster care, Vicky provides outreach and raises money to support in-school and after-school tutoring programs, summer camps, after-school activities, and new, cool clothing for kids who are always the 'new kid' in their school.  In her role as a patient care volunteer for Providence Hospice of Seattle, Vicky works directly with patients and their families, visiting once a week to give a respite break for the primary caregiver. Volunteers connect with patients through conversation, games, reading, and activities.  Her most recent volunteer position is with the Community Truancy Board for the King County Prosecutors Office.  She sits on a board that elementary, middle and high school students go to if they have missed a significant amount of school days.  Board members talk with students and their family members about the situation, discuss expectations for behavior change, and make recommendations to the Truancy Officer.  "In my work as an academic advisor in the Psychology Department, I am fortunate to work with very intelligent and energetic students," says Vicky, who loves helping students to plan their education and focus on their future goals.  "Although this is very rewarding work," she continues, "I feel that it is important to volunteer with people in crisis who are in need of greater support and assistance. The unifying experience I have in my various volunteer experiences is the opportunity to connect and listen."  The people who Vicky serves are from diverse backgrounds and face many different barriers.  She notes that, like some of the UW students with whom she works, the people that she meets through volunteering are unsure where they are going and what they would like their life to look like.  "I use many of the skills I have developed as an academic advisor when I work in the field," observes Vicky, "and likewise, I believe that my volunteer experiences has given me a deeper perspective on our community and has shaped how I work with our undergraduates."

A partnership with K-12 Education: The Evergreen School

Photo of Todd Rose
Dr. Todd Rose
Dr. Kurt Fischer
Dr. Kurt Fischer

For the third year, the Psychology Department has partnered with the Evergreen School in Shoreline, WA, to bring leading child researchers to the University of Washington campus for public events.  The goal of this partnership is to inform parents and plicy makers about cutting edge research and best practices for child education.  In November, Drs. Kurt Fischer and Todd Rose (both from Harvard University) discussed the importance of working memory in K-12 classrooms, the role of neuroscience in education, and how to transform research into practice in the classroom.

New Certificate Program in Early Childhood Leadership

Rebecca Cortes
Instructor Rebecca Cortes

The Psychology Department has launched its first professional certificate program! The program leads to a certificate in Early Childhood Leadership and it is now open for registration. Classes start Feb. 23, 2011, and last for six months.  Psychology Department researcher Rebecca Cortes is the coordinator and instructor for the program.  Participants have the opportunity to develop a strong conceptual framework that strengthens their leadership vision for the field of early childhood development and education. They will gain a multidisciplinary perspective on system factors that contribute to early development and learning, acquire a core set of leadership skills that allow them to guide teams toward continuous quality improvement, and connect with essential resources and professional networks to remain current on issues in the field. 

Faculty Set Groundwork for Collaborations in China

When assistant professor Janxin Leu was studying in China as an undergraduate, there were approximately 15 departments of psychology in the entire country.  She would never have predicted that less than two decades later there would almost 250! Certainly, the discipline of psychology is taking off in the People’s Republic of China – and four faculty members from the UW Department of Psychology went there this fall to investigate and explore collaborations.

Jane Simoni, Jessia Sommerville, Brian Flaherty,
left to right: Drs. Jane Simoni, Jessia Sommerville,
Brian Flaherty, Nieh Hau-Tong (Director of the Center for
Advanced Study at Tsinghau University), and Janxin Leu

Dr. Leu (social area), along with assistant professor Brian Flaherty (quantitative), associate professor Jessica Sommerville (developmental), and professor Jane Simoni (clinical), made the trip to Beijing as part of their involvement in the Global Psychology Interdisciplinary Research Initiative or IRIS. The IRIS program is a result of Chair Sheri Mizumori’s vision for enhanced collaboration among the areas in the Department, and is sponsored by generous support of the Dean’s Office.

As well as visiting Beijing University, the site of Dr. Leu’s year abroad as an undergraduate, the faculty met with researchers at the Institute for Psychology at the Chinese Academy of Science, Tsinghua, and Beijing Normal University, where UW Vice-Provost of Global Affairs Steven Hanson joined them. At Beijing Normal University, Drs. Leu and Sommerville were impressed with the research facilities for conducting studies of developmental neuroscience. The two are hoping to forge a collaboration to investigate cross-cultural differences in social cognition among infants, including the influence of culture and context in how infants infer the intentional states of others.  

Drs. Flaherty and Simoni were able to meet with top public health officials at the China Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to discuss priorities in HIV research and tobacco control. Dr. Flaherty learned that establishing smoking bans in public spaces is the biggest public health goal of China's National Tobacco Control Office.  In the future, he hopes to establish a relationship with that office and contribute to their tobacco control efforts. Dr. Simoni met experts in mental health, who she hopes will assist her with a new project on providing counseling to individuals recently diagnosed with HIV – still a very highly stigmatized condition in China.

The team discussed possible student and faculty exchanges and will work with Dr. Hanson on negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding with at least one of the institutions they visited.

2010 USA Science and Engineering Festival

Psychology Department Research Professor Randy Kyes, Director of the Department-affiliated Center for Global Field Study, was in Washington D.C. last October to host a science exhibit as part of the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo on the Washington Mall http://www.usasciencefestival.org.

Kyes helping a festival attendee practice pipetting.
Kyes helping a festival
attendee practice pipetting.

The exhibit, titled “What Can Animals Tell Us about the Future of the Earth,” featured demonstrations and hands-on experience with equipment used in field research (such as GPS receivers, trap cameras, radio telemetry, blow pipes), as well as in the lab.  The goal of the exhibit was to demonstrate how biodiversity conservation and human health are interrelated and that we must focus our attention and study on the human-environment interface if we are to be successful in our conservation of biodiversity and promotion of global health.  By studying animals at this interface, we can better understand the anthropogenic threats and resulting impact on the animals and their environment, and in turn, the growing risks to human health.

Photo of Randall Kyes, Mathew Novak, Katie Hinde and Crita Johnson
From left to right: Kyes with
former UW students,
Katie Hinde, Crista Johnson, and
Matthew Novak

The Festival Expo was the culmination of a two week national celebration of science that began on October 10, 2010 and was designed to reinvigorate American youth’s interest in science.  More than 1500 exhibits sponsored by the country’s leading science and engineering institutions were present for the two day event which drew an estimated half million visitors. 

Former UW students, Dr. Matthew Novak (Psychology), Dr. Katie Hinde (Anthropology), and Crista Johnson (Anthropology) assisted with the exhibit.   All three are alumni of Kyes’ International Field Study Program, in Indonesia

Thank you to our supporters

Special thanks to the following April - October 2010 supporters.  Contributions help strengthen our Department and support a wide range of important research and instructional work by our current students and faculty, as well as recruitment of the very best new faculty and graduate students.  Please let us know if we have accidentally omitted or misspelled your name by writing to the Psychology Development office.

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Behavioral Tech, LLC  |  LISALI LLC  |  Universitetet I Bergen

Estate of Robert C. Bolles  |  Estate of Allen L. Edwards

In honor of Dr. Cheryl Kempinsky:  Ms. Donna L. Klein

Matching:  American Association of Retired Persons  |  The Boeing Company

Edward's Lectures 2011: Diversity, Culture and Behavior

Image of Allen EdwardsIn each year since 2004, the Psychology Department has hosted a public lecture series made possible by a generous endowment by Professor Allen Louis Edwards who was affiliated with the University of Washington Department of Psychology from his arrival in 1944 as an Associate Professor to his death in 1994. In this lecture series, world renowned leaders in a variety of Psychology subdisciplines join our faculty for three evening public lectures on important issues facing our society. These lectures are recorded for future viewing on UWTV.

This year, the Public lecture series addresses the theme of Diversity, Culture, and Behavior. Our three featured faculty include: Dr. Sapna Cheryan (Feb. 16), Dr. Cheryl Kaiser (Feb. 23), and Dr. Jane Simoni (Mar. 2). Descriptions of their individual research programs can be found below. Also you will find the names of the world renowned colleagues who have been invited to participate in each of the lectures. Save the date, and we hope to see you there!


Gender Stereotypes: How They Discourage Unconventional Career Choices and Limit Opportunities

February 16, 2011, 7-9 pm, Kane Hall Room 120

Sapna Cheryan, Assistant Professor

Image of Sapna Cheryan

Despite having made significant inroads into a variety of traditionally male-dominated fields, women continue to be underrepresented in computer science and engineering (CS&E). Many theories have been put forth to explain this phenomenon, ranging from innate female inferiority in quantitative skills to an unwillingness by women to put in late hours. Dr. Cheryan’s research shifts the explanation for this underrepresentation away from women’s deficiencies and instead examines whether it is the image of CS&E, fueled by inaccurate stereotypes, that interferes with women’s ability to see themselves in these fields.

Dr. Cheryan’s research demonstrates that current perceptions of computer scientists as “computer nerds” deter women, but not men, from the field. She shows that women report being less similar to computer scientists than men and that this lack of perceived similarity is important in explaining their lower interest in the field. However, women express more interest in CS and believe they will perform better when the field’s prominent stereotypes are altered. For instance, women who are exposed to objects stereotypically associated with the field (e.g., Star Trek posters, video games) are less likely to consider majoring in CS than women who are exposed to non-stereotypical objects (e.g., art posters, water bottles). Further experiments addressed perceptions by women already in the field and found that reminding female engineers of their engineering identity caused them to distance themselves from their feminine identity.              

This research suggests that broadening the image of male-dominated fields – for instance, using environments, the media, and role models – may be fundamentally important to increasing women’s interest in them and their ability to be successful once there.

For more information on Professor Cheryan’s research, visit her website at:

http://faculty.washington.edu/scheryan/

For recent news coverage, see:

http://uwnews.org/article.asp?articleID=54341

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/50804/title/Stereotypes_steer_women_away_from_computer_science

Dr. Alice Eagly (Professor of Psychology, Northwestern University) will be joining Dr. Cheryan on February 16, 2011.


How Diversity Science Research Informs Law and Policy

February 23, 2011, 7-9pm, Kane Hall Room 120

Cheryl Kaiser, Associate Professor

Image of Cheryl KaiserDespite the popular assumption that women and members of minority groups liberally play the “race or sex card” by frequently claiming to be the target of discrimination, an abundance of social science research shows that this image is false. When women and minorities recognize discrimination, their most common response is to keep this information to themselves. Why would people who believe that they are targets of discrimination be reluctant to report it? Dr. Kaiser’s research shows that this reluctance is due to the perception and reality that people experience retaliation when they air claims of discrimination. For example, her experimental research shows that majority group members respond negatively toward members of minority groups who claim to experience discrimination, even when discrimination claims are clearly reasonable. And when exposed to discrimination claims in more naturalistic contexts, such as news media reports about the role of racism in the Hurricane Katrina response, White Americans express more biased intergroup attitudes. Dr. Kaiser’s research highlights the barriers that people face when they experience discrimination and it highlights how people will avoid speaking up about discrimination, even when they notice it and are bothered by it.

Dr. Kaiser’s research shows how theoretically-driven psychological science has important implications for policies aimed at remedying discrimination. This research is of direct relevance to employment discrimination law and organizational policies which commonly assume that people who experience discrimination speak up about it and that when they do so, they are treated fairly. Dr Kaiser’s research offers evidence-based strategies that can improve discrimination-related policy and law.

For more information on Professor Kaiser’s research, visit her website at:

http://depts.washington.edu/silab/silab.html

For recent news coverage of Professor Kaiser’s research, see:

http://uwnews.org/uweek/article.aspx?id=48440

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2010/09/immigration.aspx

http://uwnews.org/uweek/article.aspx?id=43814

Dr. Linda Tropp (Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Psychology of Peace and Violence Program, University of Massachusetts) will be joining Dr. Kaiser for the February 23, 2011 lecture.


Global mental health and HIV: Intervention research in China and on the U.S.-Mexico Border

March 2, 2011, 7-9pm, Kane Hall Room 120

Jane Simoni, Professor

Image of Jane SimoniMental disorders and psychological health vary across cultures, yet most of what we know in the field of clinical psychology has been based on the experiences of middle-class White Americans. Related, mental health professionals have developed over 400 different forms of psychotherapy, but how many – if any – are relevant for individuals outside of the West where they were originated? Even if the treatments are effective, how will they be implemented in settings in which mental health professionals are scarce? These are pressing concerns in current initiatives to address global mental health.

Dr. Simoni’s work in this area has focused on two developmental projects: one in China and one on the US-Mexico border. In China, Dr. Simoni and colleagues developed and evaluated a nurse-delivered counseling program to assist individuals living with HIV to take their medications as prescribed and address psycho-social concerns around their HIV diagnosis. She is about to begin a new project in China to examine how, in the absence of appropriately trained therapists, computer-based technologies might be harnessed to address the acute stress of newly HIV diagnosed individuals. On the U.S.-Mexico border, Dr. Simoni and colleagues at the University of El Paso are adapting an intervention to address depression and HIV medication adherence among HIV-positive adults. Modifications of the cognitive-behavior intervention involved addressing cultural proscriptions against homosexuality, widespread HIV stigma, and the importance of family and community support.

For more information on Professor Simoni’s research, visit her websites at:

http://faculty.washington.edu/jsimoni/jane.shtml

Recent media

Elevated rates of sexual, physical trauma may put urban American Indian women at increased risk for contracting HIV

Dr. Craig Van Dyke (Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Global Mental Health Program, University of California, San Francisco) will be joining Dr. Simoni for the March 2, 2011 lecture.