Developmental science has shown that adolescence represents a unique phase for learning. Adolescent brains are structured for the intense learning they need to transition from childhood into the world. This enhanced ability to learn is combined with a heightened curiosity to develop new interests and try new things. It can be understood as a period of specialisation in which the brain becomes more efficient and streamlined, where neural connections are either strengthened or eliminated depending on their frequency of use. This ‘use it or lose it’ phase offers unique possibilities for positive interventions which take advantage of the brain's ability to remodel and adapt. This includes instrumental learning where the adolescent brain is especially sensitive to trial and error adjustments to its surroundings; learning from real life, real time consequences.
The science would suggest that the development of young players benefits from environments that facilitate instrumental, trial and error practices where learners are free to experiment and learn from their own feedback. This honours natural adolescent drives. But sometimes the atmosphere of penalty for failure or winning at all costs can demotivate the adolescent player. At IDYOMS we work with coaches, clubs and associations to create safe, secure yet challenging environments that support such self-driven exploration and engagement, seeking to exploit this unique learning phase.