Education and psychological service model to prevent outflow of human resource from youth sports

PhD, Associate Professor S.A. Vorobev1
Dr. Hab., Associate Professor A.G. Gretsov1, 2
PhD, Associate Professor Y.S. Pezhemskaya2
PhD, Associate Professor N.L. Somova2
Master A.P. Linkevich2
1St. Petersburg Scientific Research Institute of Physical Culture, St. Petersburg
2Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia, St. Petersburg

Keywords: dropout prevention training and psychological service model, dropout risk, primary schoolchildren

Background. Russian sport communities give a growing priority to the children and youth sports development projects and the relevant selection and test initiatives to find the gifted children for successful competitive careers [4] and sort out the potentially unsuccessful individuals from the beginner sport groups.

Objective of the study was to analyze the education environment at a Children and Youth Sport School (CYSS) versus the individual psychological profiles of the primary schoolchildren to offer a set of predictors to rate and prevent a potential outflow of human resource from the youth sports by the relevant prevention programs.

Methods and structure of the study. We used for the study purposes a few psychological test tools (questionnaire surveys and tests with the relevant test scales); inclusive monitoring method; standard statistical data processing tools; correlation analysis with the Spearman rank correlation coefficient; comparative analysis with the Mann-Whitney U- test; and the ANOVA single-factor dispersion analysis. To rate the training environment safety, psychological comfort and personality traits of the sample, we used  the I.A. Bayeva School Education Environment and Psychological Climate Test [2] adapted by A.R. Linkevich and Y.S. Pezhemskaya for sport schools [9]; Y.P. Ilyin Tappting Test [7]; S. Harter and P. Pike Competence and Social Acceptance Self-rating Test modified by N.S. Chernyshova and adapted for sport applications by A.R. Linkevich and Y.S. Pezhemskaya [11]; T. Dembo and S.Y. Rubinstein Self-rating Qualities Test adapted by A.M. Prikhozhan [10]; and the Performance Mastery Self-rating method based on the T. Dembo and S.Y. Rubinstein Self-rating Qualities Test.

Furthermore, we used the N.N. Alexandrov and T.I. Shulga Unsolvable Task Test [1] adapted for sport applications by A.R. Linkevich and Y.S. Pezhemskaya to rate exposure to the dropout risks in the sample. The test method profiles the individual emotional responses and volitional qualities that are normally mobilized to meet the sport-specific challenges, with such test rates considered the important personality-specific parameters directly indicative of determination and tenacity among the other qualities.

Unsolvable task in the study was modeled by a long jump to the points preset by the experimenter. The distances were set versus the age-specific (6-8 years) standards, with the qualification ranges of the jumps set at 80cm (under the age standard), 130cm (approximate age maximum) and 190cm (much above the age maximum), with the experimenter fixing the numbers of attempts and the individual give-up reasons.

The inclusive monitoring was designed to identify the individuals in the sport aerobics group with the strong and relatively weak tenacity rates, with the latter deemed to form the high-dropout-risk group since neither sport career may be fully free of hardships and hard work. Those who were tested to give up too fast were qualified as potentially unsuccessful in sports, disinterested in success and, hence, prone to unpredictable dropouts.

To identify influence of some other parameters, the sample was split up into the low-, average-and high-dropout-risk groups for the training environment safety and individual psychological qualities testing purposes; and we made a correlation analysis to find connections in the psychological comfort, environmental safety and individual psychological qualities test data arrays for the above risk groups. Sampled for the education-psychological service model piloting experiment were 61 people including an aerobics group from CYSS in Saint Petersburg (n=35), their families (n=21) and coaches (n=5).

Results and discussion. The performance mastery and qualities self-rates of the aerobics group were found to vary within the normal range favorable the personality development goals; and the general competence and social acceptance rates were tested high in every children group. The CYSS environmental safety tests showed positive attitudes to the environment in every test group (children, families and coaches), with the high-dropout-risk group tested with the meaningfully lower environmental satisfaction rates (p<0.01) that may be considered the fair dropout predictors. On the whole, the environmental safety appreciation rates for the key criteria were tested medium and high that may be interpreted as indicative of the CYSS environment and climate being considered fairly safe and comfortable. It should be mentioned that most people in the high-dropout-risk group were found to explain their failures by their own faults rather than the environment.

Furthermore, the high-dropout-risk group was tested with the (1) Low ‘physical competence and coach’s acceptance’ rates that means that their relations with the coach are somewhat problematic and they feel partially deprived of the coach’s help and support; (2) Domination  (74%) of the weak and medium-to-weak central nervous system types, with no one tested with a strong CNS type critical for a competitive progress and more resistant to the competitive overtension and other stressors [4]; (3) Overestimated self-rates, with the children often rating themselves as ‘merry’ and unserious in trainings and mental conditioning for success, i.e. underdeveloped in the mental self-control domain; and (4) Overestimated performance mastery self-rates in the ‘basic steps’ test (p<0.05).

The intergroup data correlation analysis found the following statistically significant (p<0.05) correlations of the test rates regardless of the dropout risks: (1) Psychological comfort rates versus the performance mastery self-rates in the children groups; (2) Coach acceptance rates versus the psychological comfort rates; and (3) The cognitive and physical competence rates versus the individual qualities self-rates.

Based on the findings of the comparative and correlation analyses we produced the following guiding psychological profilies of the high- and low-dropout risk groups for the 6-8 olds trained in the sport aerobics groups. The low-dropout risk group individuals are normally: accepted by the coaches; satisfied with every key parameter of the training environment; feel themselves safe; accept the environment; highly rate their own self as the accurate, friendly and kind individual with a reasonably high tenacity rates. And the high-dropout risk group individuals are normally unsuccessful in at least some of the basic step tests; non-accepted by their peers; rate low their own learning abilities albeit high on the other self-rating scales including the performance self-rating one – to feel themselves safer; underestimate the importance of the coach’s acceptance and, hence, reluctant to establish good relations with the coach; self-rate themselves as merry and easy going to better cope with the environment-specific challenges.

It should be emphasized that in the beginner training period the children are very sensitive to the coach’s and family’s support and climate in the sport group, with the key role played by the coach’s personality [8] and psychological safety/ comfort of the training environment. This is the reason why we recommend the training environment being periodically tested for the psychological safety, with the integral tests of the trainees’ personality qualities. Motivated and sensitive coaching service, good sport facilities and equipment, friendly management/ service personnel and psychologically comfortable conflicts-free teams are critical for competitive progress in this age group [5].

Conclusion. The dropout-prevention coaching policies and practices are recommended to be designed in the test – forecast – management format. This means that based on the test data the coach and/or sport psychologist should identify the potential high-dropout-risk group of individuals that may suddenly leave the trainings and then work out individual/ group dropout prevention policies for this sensitive group.


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Objective of the study was to analyze the education environment at a Children and Youth Sport School (CYSS) versus the individual psychological profiles of the primary schoolchildren to offer a set of predictors to rate and prevent a potential outflow of human resource from the youth sports by the relevant prevention programs. Sampled for the education-psychological service model piloting experiment were 61 people including an aerobics group from CYSS in St. Petersburg (n=35), their families (n=21) and coaches (n=5). The study was designed to use a few psychological test tools (questionnaire survey, tests) with an ‘unsolvable problem’ test and survey. The learning environment versus the outflow risk exposure rating study found the group, families and coaches generally having positive attitudes to the school environment; albeit the high-dropout-risk group was tested with a relative dissatisfaction with the service environment. The high-risk group was further tested with domination of the weak to medium-weak central nervous system types and low rates on the Physical Competency and Coach’s Acceptance scales. This means that the junior athletes were dissatisfied with the degree of support from the coaches; with the high determination rates in the group found associated with the low self-rates and own competitive performance rates.