Examining the Impact of Counselor and Peer Support on Social Skill Development in a Sport-Based Positive Youth Development Program


  • Kelly Barcza-Renner Franklin University
  • Dawn Anderson-Butcher The Ohio State University
  • Anthony Amorose Illinois State University
  • Rebecca Wade-Mdivanian The Ohio State University


self-control, effort, teamwork, social responsibility


Positive youth development (PYD) programs provide education, resources, and skills for youth and families, while promoting healthy behaviors and relationships (Catalano, Berglund, Ryan, Lonczak & Hawkins, 2004). Given the constructive impact PYD programs can have on individuals, families, and communities, there is a need to develop a deeper understanding about youth participants’ experiences and interactions during programming. The present study investigated changes over time in self-reported levels of self-control, effort, teamwork, and social responsibility (SETS) in a sport-based PYD program. Additionally, the influence of camp counselor and peer support on social skill outcomes was explored. Results demonstrated improvements in SETS among youth from pre- to post-camp. Hierarchical regression analyses found both camp counselor and peer support were significant, positive predictors of the SETS scores at post-test. No interaction effects were found. Although there is still much more to ascertain about participants’ PYD experiences, this study highlighted the importance of support from both camp counselors and peers on the development of social skills among youth.


Aiken, L. S., West, S. G., & Reno, R. R. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Sage.

Amorose, A., & Anderson-Butcher, D. (2015). Exploring the independent and interactive effects of autonomy-supportive and controlling coaching behaviors on adolescent athletes' motivation for sport. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology. 4(3), 206-218.

Anderson-Butcher, D. (in press). Youth sport as a vehicle for social development. Kinesiology Review.

Anderson-Butcher, D., & Amorose, A. (2017). Support for SETS Reinforcement Scale. Community and Youth Collaborative Institute, College of Social Work, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.

Anderson-Butcher, D., Amorose, A. J., Lower, L. M., Riley, A., Gibson, A., & Ruch, D. (2016). The case for the perceived social competence scale II. Research on Social Work Practice, 26(4), 419-428.

Anderson-Butcher, D., Amorose, A., Newman, T., & Lower, L. (2016). Perceived self-control scale. LiFEsports Initiative, Community and Youth Collaborative Institute, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.

Anderson-Butcher, D., Iachini, A. L., & Amorose, A. J. (2008). Initial reliability and validity of the perceived social competence scale. Research on Social Work Practice, 18(1), 47-54.

Anderson-Butcher, D., Riley, A., Amorose, A.J., Iachini, A., & Wade-Mdivanian, R. (2014). Maximizing youth experiences in community sport settings: The design and impact of the LiFE Sports Camp. Journal of Sport Management. 26(2), 236-249.

Anderson-Butcher, D. Wade-Mdivanian, R., & Davis, J. (2018). Learning in Fitness and Education (LiFE) Curriculum. Columbus, OH: College of Social Work, The Ohio State University.

Anderson-Butcher, D., Wade-Mdivanian, R., Paluta, L., Lower, L., Amorose, A., & Davis, J. (2014). OSU LiFE Sports 2013 annual report. Columbus, OH: College of Social Work, The Ohio State University.

Anthony, E. K., Alter, C. F., & Jenson, J. M. (2009). Development of a risk and resilience based out-of-school time program for children and youths. Social Work, 54(1), 45–55.

Bandura, A. (1986). The explanatory and predictive scope of self-efficacy theory. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 4(3), 359-373.

Bandura, A., & Walters, R. H. (1977). Social learning theory (Vol. 1). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-hall.

Benson, P. L., Scales, P. C., Hamilton, S. F., Sesma, A., Hong, K. L., & Roehlkepartain, E. C. (2006). Positive youth development so far: Core hypotheses and their implications for policy and practice. Search Institute Insights & Evidence, 3(1), 1–13.

Bornstein, M. H., Hahn, H., & Haynes, M. O. (2010). Social competence, externalizing, and internalizing behavioral adjustment from early childhood through early adolescence: Developmental cascades. Development and Psychopathology, 22, 717–735.

Catalano, R. F., Berglund, M. L., Ryan, J. A., Lonczak, H. S., & Hawkins, J. D. (2002). Positive youth development in the United States: Research findings on evaluations of positive youth development programs. Prevention & Treatment, 5(1), 15a.

Catalano, R. F., Berglund, M. L., Ryan, J. A., Lonczak, H. S., & Hawkins, J. D. (2004). Positive youth development in the United States: Research findings on evaluations of positive youth development programs. The annals of the American academy of political and social science, 591(1), 98-124.

Dirks, M. A., Treat, T. A., & Weersing, V. R. (2007). Integrating theoretical, measurement, and intervention models of youth social competence. Clinical Psychology Review, 27, 327–347.

Durlak, J. A., & Weissberg, R. P. (2007). The Impact of After-School Programs that Promote Personal and Social Skills. Collaborative for academic, social, and emotional learning (NJ1).

Fraser-Thomas, J. L., Côté, J., & Deakin, J. (2005). Youth sport programs: An avenue to foster positive youth development. Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy, 10(1), 19-40.

Gano-Overway, L. A., Newton, M., Magyar, T. M., Fry, M. D., Kim, M. S., & Guivernau, M. R. (2009). Influence of caring youth sport contexts on efficacy-related beliefs and social behaviors. Developmental psychology, 45(2), 329.

Goodman, E., Slap, G. B., & Huang, B. (2003). The public health impact of socioeconomic status on adolescent depression and obesity. American journal of public health, 93(11), 1844-1850.

Gould, D., & Carson, S. (2008). Life skills development through sport: current status and future directions. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 1(1), 58-78.

Gould, D. & Carson, S. (2011). Young athletes’ perceptions of relationships between coaching behaviors and developmental experiences. International Journal of Coaching Science, 5(2), 3-29.

Gresham, F. M. (2002). Best practices in social skills training. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology (4th ed., Vol. 2, pp. 1029-1040). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

Heaney, C. A., & Israel, B. A. (2008). Social networks and social support. Health behavior and health education: Theory, research, and practice, 4, 189-210.

Hermens, N., Super, S., Verkooijen, K. T., & Koelen, M. A. (2017). A systematic review of life skill development through sports programs serving socially vulnerable youth. Research quarterly for exercise and sport, 88(4), 408-424.

Holt, N., Neely, K., Slater, L., Camire, M., Cote, J., Fraser-Thomas, J., & Tamminen, K. (2017). A grounded theory of positive youth development through sport based on results from a qualitative meta-study. International Review of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 10(1), 1-49.

Jones, D. E., Greenberg, M., & Crowley, M. (2015). Early social-emotional functioning and public health: The relationship between kindergarten social competence and future wellness. American journal of public health, 105(11), 2283-2290.

Katz, L. G., McClellan, D. E., Fuller, J. O., & Walz, G. R. (1995). Building social competence in children: A practical handbook for counselors, psychologists, and teachers. ERIC Elementary and Early Childhood Education Clearinghouse. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.

Masten, A. S., & Coatsworth, J. D. (1998). The development of competence in favorable and unfavorable environments: Lessons from research on successful children. American Psychologist, 53, 205-230.

McDonough, M., Ullrich-French, S., Anderson-Butcher, D., Amorose, A.J., & Riley, A. (2013). Social relationships predict social responsibility among low-income youth in sport-based positive youth development programs. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 25, 431-447.

McDonough, M., Ullrich-French, S., & McDavid, M. (2017). Helping kids connect: Participant and staff perspectives on facilitating social relationships in a physical activity-based positive youth development program for youth from low-income families. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 7(1), 13-29.

Newman, T. (2019). Exploring life skill development and transfer: Experiences of youth in a community sport-based positive youth development program (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.

Newman, T., Anderson-Butcher, D., & Amorose, A. (2018). Examining the influence of sport program staff and parental support on youth outcomes. Applied Developmental Science. DOI: 10.1080/10888691.2018.1467762.

Obradovic, J., & Hipwell, A. (2010). Psychopathology and social competence during the transition to adolescence: The role of family adversity and pubertal development. Development and Psychopathology, 22, 623–636.

Pozo, P., Grao-Cruces, A., Pérez-Ordás, R. (2018). Teaching personal and social responsibility model-based programmes in physical education: A systematic review. European Physical Education Review, 24(1), 56-75.

Riley, A., Anderson-Butcher, D., Logan, J., Newman, T., & Davis, J. (2017). Staff practices and social skill outcomes in a sport-based youth program. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 29, 59-74.

Ross, K. M., & Tolan, P. (2018). Social and emotional learning in adolescence: Testing the CASEL model in a normative sample. Journal of Early Adolescence, 38(8), 1170-1199.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.68

Schneider, B. L., Ford, T., & Perez-Felkner, L. (2010). Social Networks and the Education of Children and Youth. In P. Peterson, E. Baker & B. McGaw (Eds.), International Encyclopedia of Education (pp. 705-711). Oxford: Elsevier.

Sheridan, D., Coffee, P., & Lavallee, D. (2014). A systematic review of social support in youth sport. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 7(1), 198-228.

Strine, T. W., Mokdad, A. H., Dube, S. R., Balluz, L. S., Gonzalez, O., Berry, J. T., & Kroenke, K. (2008). The association of depression and anxiety with obesity and unhealthy behaviors among community-dwelling US adults. General hospital psychiatry, 30(2), 127-137.

Super, S., Wentink, C., Verkooijen, K., & Koelen, M. (2017). Exploring the sports experiences of socially vulnerable youth. Social Inclusion, 5(2), 198-209.

Ullrich-French, S., McDonough, M. H., & Smith, A. L. (2012). Social connection and psychological outcomes in a physical activity-based youth development setting. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 83(3), 431-41.

Vierimaa, M., Turnnidge, J., Bruner, M., & Côté, J. (2017). Just for the fun of it: coaches’ perceptions of an exemplary community youth sport program. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 22(6), 603-617.

Votruba-Drzal, E. (2006). Economic disparities in middle childhood development: Does income matter?. Developmental psychology, 42(6), 1154.

Wentzel, K. R. (2009). Peers and academic functioning at school. In K. H. Rubin, W. M. Bukowski, & B. Laursen (Eds.), Social, emotional, and personality development in context. Handbook of peer interactions, relationships, and groups (pp. 531-547). New York, NY, US: The Guilford Press.

Whitley, M. A., Massey, W. V. Camiré, M., Boutet, M., & Borbee, A. (2019). Sport-based youth development interventions in the United States: A systematic review. BMC Public Health, 19(89), 1-20.

Yang, S., Lynch, J., Schulenberg, J., Roux, A. V. D., & Raghunathan, T. (2008). Emergence of socioeconomic inequalities in smoking and overweight and obesity in early adulthood: the national longitudinal study of adolescent health. American journal of public health, 98(3), 468-477.