Sport psychology is often touted as being helpful for athletes of all ages and abilities, and this is certainly true for our youngest athletes! Children (5-12 years of age) and adolescents (13-18 years of age) make up a large proportion of the individuals involved in sport. Sport can be an important venue for learning and developing sport-specific skills as well as for fostering physical, psychological, physiological, cognitive, emotional, and social development (1, 2).
Children and youth can certainly benefit from the use of mental skills when they are delivered in a way that is tailored to the needs of the young athletes (2, 3). In fact, skills such as imagery often come naturally to children (2, 4). However, the way in which we introduce them and reinforce them with this population may be slightly different than how we would approach this with adults.