Youth Resiliency in a Sport, Recreation, and Leisure setting

by Brandon B.

Youth in recreation, sport, or leisure activities get to learn many qualities through playing. Resiliency is one quality that they learn about and eventually learn to master. When I played atom hockey, I would cry after each game we lost. This was something as a young kid that I did not realize was a part of being resilient – that their would always be a next time and that not only would I improve, but my whole team would eventually improve.

Hurtes and Allen (2001) reference Rutter’s (1990) definition that resiliency is “positive pole of the ubiquitous phenomenon of individual difference in people’s responses to stress and adversity (p. 181)”. It was not until I got into junior high sports teams that I learned to be resilient. I am not the only example of this, I have seen youth in physical education classes where they are getting frustrated at the activity because they either do not understand the rules or they do not receive enough support. They reacted like I did. “Resiliency appears to be a useful framework that identifies key skills, attitudes, and abilities that empower youth to successfully negotiate life’s challenges and thereby, promote positive growth and development” (Hurtes & Allen, 2001). As these authors have mentioned, it is about making sure youth programs promote resiliency and teach youth how to bounce back and to be positive when the going gets tough.

Lastly, through these programs, youth will be able to take these skills that they have learned and be able to apply them to everyday adult experiences. As a student who aims to get into teaching later on, I feel I would be able to relate and give any information or support needed so that youth going through resiliency issues will not need to be labelled as the “crybaby” or “sore loser”. I had to deal with those labels. I did not like them, but I know from personal experience that I would be able to work with youth to get through these rough patches in their life.

Six years of volleyball has taught me a lot about resiliency, or at least given me a metaphor. You could be losing to the point where the opposing team only needs one more point to win; however, the game is not done until they get that one point. You still have a chance. University, like volleyball, has taught me that I can get a terrible grade and still pass with a good mark. Resiliency sticks with you, even if youth do not realize that is the skill they are learning. I think the important things for youth in terms of building resilience is the right amount of stress along with balanced coping strategies. If youth are able to begin mastering these aspects, then I believe that they will be able to face anything in their near and distant future. Lastly, resiliency can provide many opportunities other than trying new things. Through coping techniques, youth may experience that making new friends or building those adult relationships can really help them grow as a person overall and speaks to the character that they are.


Hurtes, K.P and Allen, L.R (2001) Measuring resiliency in youth: the resiliency attitudes and skills profile.

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3 Responses to Youth Resiliency in a Sport, Recreation, and Leisure setting

  1. Victoria Starratt says:

    Great Points Brandon! I agree with your ideals of supportive environments to foster resiliency. Youth serving recreation organizations can focus on creating programs and programming environments that encourage supportive relationships between peers and between youth and mentors/leaders in the program. Relationships between recreation leaders and youth involved in the program should be structure based. Leaders should create special bonds to youth that encourage trust and honesty. However, these bonds should also exhibit clear expectation of behavior and the values of their program. Youth leaders can create the groups youth work in as opposed to letting youth choose groups of their own.

  2. Kunderhi says:

    Great post Brandon, I completely agree with the points you stated!
    Being a very competitive person made gaining resiliency extremely hard for me growing up. I was the definition of a “sore loser”. I hated making mistakes, and was very hard on myself – I took losing very personal. Like yourself Brandon, it wasn’t until my late junior high years that I realized the important of resilience. Every team deals will failure and it is crucial to be able to overcome this; no matter how big or small the importance of the game is.
    Resiliency in sport is something that kids learn as they grow up and you are definitely right when you said it transfers over into other aspects of your life. You need to be resilient in school and never give up or get frustrated over receiving bad marks. My brothers are in grade 9 and 11, and I can actually see the difference in the level of resilience they both show towards their school/marks. My youngest brother takes bad grades more difficult and doesn’t bounce back as easily, whereas my brother in grade 11 is more understandable and is aware of resilience when he doesn’t get the marks he hoped for.
    I was very interested in your blog post, you did a great job informing the reader about your topic and have a lot of personal experience in this topic!

  3. savannapotter says:

    Brandon, I think you’ve brought up a very important topic! While this was not something I personally struggled with as a child, I remember seeing lots of “sore losers” or players who would cry after lost basketball games, missed shots, etc. Looking at how some of these people have developed later on in life I can see where they really have developed a sense of resiliency, or avoided things they perceived has hard so they would always be successful. As someone who plans on going into physical education myself I agree that it is very important to educate athletes not only in sport etiquette but on how to be resilient in all aspects of their lives! Often times coaches will pass off the responsibility on to parents to deal with their children and teach them the idea of resilience and moving forward, however it is definitely the responsibility of all caring adult relationships to ensure students are learning these skills. Great work!!

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