Adolescence is a crucial transition stage for the continued development and retention ofparticipants/athletes in our sport, regardless of how they want to participate. Athoughtful and collaborative approach is needed between participants, guardians,coaches and organizations to support participants & athletes in this stage. Supportduring these years can be critical as individuals are facing many life transitions, higherexpectations of independence & growing demands on their time from school, sport andwithin their social life.
While still wanting to push themselves and develop their skills, social acceptance &connection with their peers, autonomy of choice and flexibility from their sportexperience will become increasingly important for adolescent participants. We cansupport these needs through better coach development and more flexible programs.Coaches should conduct themselves positive role models and by inviting participants tocollaborate and take some ownership of their participation & goals, and by fostering anenvironment which develops independence and time management skills.
Flexible programs allow for participants to have meaningful choices, and theirparticipation isn’t a choice between one direction and opting out of the sport. Sailingskills are transferable. This age is a great opportunity for a positive youth dinghy racingexperience with peers from around Canada, likewise, it’s also a good time for programs tohelp participants explore different aspects of the sport, including: recreationalcompetition within their club on different equipment, instructing/coaching orvolunteering, school league or university sailing, board and boat foiling, vocationalprofessions and recreational sailing. Many teenagers grow into exceptional instructorsand role models to participants young and old.
In the early teenage years, participants’ brains are experiencing significantdevelopments, and they’re “doing their best with their new brains”.
As well, teens are forming their identity of where they fit in the world, and others’ viewof them deeply informs their view of themselves. Therefore kindness, patience, andempathy are both difficult for them and critical for leaders to model.