Emotional processing is very different for an adolescent than a child or an adult. We now know, with the advent of new imaging technologies, that brain systems linked to the processing of emotions and reward mature earlier than those responsible for judgement and control. Adolescent behaviours have been described as ‘all gas pedal and no brakes’. The situation is a little more nuanced than this but it appears that emotions are experienced more intensely and rewards seem to shine brighter for adolescents. So on the court, pitch or training ground emotions might hold more sway for adolescent players, especially in aroused contexts or during moments of fatigue, stress or in the company of friends. The ability to consistently manage emotions and behaviour is still developing, linked to a strengthening of connectivity between limbic and prefrontal circuitry.
The ability to manage emotions better will enable young players to learn and to perform at a higher level. But this can be a challenge if around them they are getting conflicting messages or operate in an environment that isn’t conducive. So at IDYOMS we help coaches to use this unique time to support players self awareness and strategies around emotional management. Ensuring that this developmental period provides important opportunities for better management of emotions and behaviour, now and in the future.