Objectives: Youth sport programs have been designed to facilitate positive development of young sports people by teaching life skills. It is unclear which life skills are needed by adolescent athletes and which life skills should be included in youth sport programs. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore how life skills are defined, which life skills British adolescent athletes need, and which life skills are the most important.
Design and method: Nineteen adolescent athletes, 10 coaches, 4 experts in sport psychology (pilot group) and 5 graduate students (pilot group) participated in a series of focus groups. An inductive analysis revealed how life skills are defined, which life skills British adolescent athletes need, and of these skills which are the most important.
Results: Life skills were defined as ranges of transferable skills needed for everyday life, by everybody, that help people thrive. Participants described the need for interpersonal skills including social skills, respect, leadership, family interactions, and communication. Personal skills including self-organization, discipline, self-reliance, goal setting, managing performance outcomes, and motivation, were also reported. Social skills were identified as the most important life skills.
Conclusions: In conclusion, findings add support to existing positive youth development research while adding an insight into which life skills should be built into youth sport programs in the United Kingdom.