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In your sport, what are the readiness factors that would determine an optimal starting point for

involvement in an organized program? Identify five key growth and development concerns that
coaches must become knowledgeable about.
Eitzen (2012) stated that children are often pushed into sports at too early an age. Organized
sports are often pressurized by coaches and parents. Eitzen (2012) said that play is transformed
into work. Because of this consideration, children would be better served, and provided with a
better chance for a positive sport experience if growth development issues were acknowledged
and studied by parents, coaches and sport administrators.
Determining childrens physical, mental, social, and emotional growth and development are
critical in the process of deciding whether a child is ready for organized sports. The United
States Soccer Federation (2014) advised that young soccer players should be allowed to
experiment, and with that, succeed and fail. To that end, children must be suitably developed
physically, mentally, socially and emotionally to handle success and failure, before they are
registered in an organized sports league.
Physical development refers to changes which take place in the physiological makeup of a
human. Physical development is measured by such factors as height, weight, strength, endurance,
flexibility, rate of physical maturation, motor skill coordination and body composition.
Mental development consists of memory, perception, language, information processing, and
thinking abilities which influence decision-making and the understanding of the rules of play and
team concepts.
Social development refers to the ability to interact effectively and get along with others.
Appropriate social behavior consists of being able to get along with teammates, coaches, and
parents, as well as showing respect for team and league rules.
Emotional development is part of a persons personality development and it refers to the ability
to express and control ones emotions.
Of course, there will be differences within athletes in terms of the levels of their physical,
mental, social, and emotional development. Coaches may find it useful to devise developmental
profiles for each player as each child-athlete is unique and, therefore, each grows and matures at
a different rate.
Ultimately, a soccer coaches first responsibility is to ensure the safety of his players. He must
understand growth and development issues so that he can communicate them to, and have a
relationship with, the child-athletes parents. In this fashion a coach can work with a soccer
players family to determine if the player is ready for organized soccer. The United States
Soccer Federation (2014) recommended that in general, youth be introduced to organized soccer

at age six. The USSF stated that it was essential that the youth player look forward to training.
Youth players are not ready for organized soccer if they are not keen to attend practice.
Cassidy, T., Jones, R., & Potrac, P. (2009). Understanding sports coaching. London/New York:
Eitzen, D. S. (2012). Fair and foul: Beyond the myths and paradoxes of sport (5th ed.).
Lantham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
United States Soccer Federation. (2014). Best practices for coaching soccer in the United States.
Chicago, IL: USSF.