Home Child Development Age-Appropriate Play for Kids 13-18

Age-Appropriate Play for Kids 13-18

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While both boys and girls will reach their peak growth spurts during these years, it is not always easy to predict when an athlete has reached his or her adult height and body composition. That said, adolescents at this age will be able to better understand their strengths and weaknesses and are fully aware of what it means to be part of team as well as able to accurately view their own abilities and the abilities of others.

Emotional Development

They also may be prone to more anxiety as their capacity to think abstractly is more fully developed. Winning and losing may mean more to them and contribute to how they perceive themselves in their peer groups as well as how they form a sense of their identity. While these athletes may begin to look and talk like adults, they are still not fully adult. For example, their visual capacities are still developing.  Some researchers indicate that peripheral vision can still improve functionally well into the teen years. This has obvious implications for field awareness, which should be considered by their coaches as they evaluate players and construct drills. The frontal lobes of the adolescent brain, which affect organization, planning, sequencing and impulse control, are still developing. So, once again, focusing on keeping drills clear, time-limited and concise are critical.

Best Practice

Instructions should still be clear and easy to follow, even if the capacity to handle more information exists in adolescents. Also, while the attention span of this age group is greater than elementary school athletes, it is still important to keep practices concise and active. Practices that extend beyond two hours often lose the attention of most adolescents as well as expose them to fatigue and injury as well as burnout. The challenge for adults working with adolescents is to recognize their growing abilities while keeping an eye out for the areas that are still maturing.

The Coaches Challenge

These athletes still need much support and guidance and may not be ready for the prime time adult pressure that they will experience as college students and beyond. Playing time at this age, particularly at the high school levels, may now be based more on ability. A critical challenge for coaches at this stage is to create roles so that all team members feel valued, even if their playing time is limited.

This article was adapted by Dr. Ginsburg’s original posting on the US Lacrosse website and from the book Whose Game Is It, Anyway?, Ginsburg, Durant and Baltzell

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Dr. Richard Ginsburg
Dr. Richard D. Ginsburg is a clinical psychologist and sport psychology consultant. He is co-director of the Massachusetts General Hospital PACES Institute of Sport Psychology and is an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ginsburg also serves as staff psychologist in the Newton Wellesley Hospital Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Department and is the director of Behavioral Health for the Boston Red Sox. Dr. Ginsburg offers a broad range of clinical services to children, adolescents and adults and conducts youth and professional sport research. He is author of the book, Whose Game Is It, Anyway, A guide to helping your child get the most from sports, organized by age and stage and has served as a sport psychology consultant for a variety of professional and college-level sports teams, including lacrosse, soccer, water polo and ice hockey at Harvard University. He is a member of the US Lacrosse Safety and Science Committee and provides talks and consultations nationally to youth, high school, and collegiate athletic programs. Dr. Ginsburg played lacrosse and soccer at Kenyon College, where he won all-conference and all-Midwest honors. He is also a former independent school teacher and coach. He lives with his wife, Teri, and their two children in Newton, Massachusetts.

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