Eric Legg

Youth sports research highlighted as part of ASU's Innovation Day


Paul Atkinson

The youth sports research of a professor in the School of Community Resources and Development will be on display at the inaugural Innovation Day held Friday, November 16 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. The event features free food, the chance to learn about other ASU innovations and a free concert by vocal artist and comedian Reggie Watts, the music director for the Late Late Show with James Cordon on CBS.

Sports can play a defining role in the development of youth. Research by Eric Legg, an assistant professor in the ASU School of Community Resources and Development, is helping identify how volunteer coaches can have a positive effect on that development through feedback of how they interact with their players.

"This research emerged from a conversation with the league director who told me, ‘our coaches mean well, I just don’t think they are always aware of their behaviors,’" said Legg. "I replied, ‘what if we helped make them aware?’, and we built the project from there."

Legg studied two sets of boy’s basketball coaches. He observed one set and provided feedback on ways they could improve their interactions with players to create more positive outcomes for kids. A second set of coaches did not receive feedback. Players from all teams were surveyed to see if coaches who received feedback had higher marks from their players when it came to creating an empowering environment. Coaches who received feedback scored slightly higher than coaches who did not receive feedback, though the differences were not significant. Legg, however, found that coaches who focused on effort and improvement, answered player’s questions, explained decisions and encouraged players to take initiative were more likely to enhance positive youth development.

Eric Legg

Eric Legg, an assistant professor in the School of Community Resources and Development, presents at the SPARKS 2017 symposium in downtown Phoenix.

“Oftentimes coaches are so focused on being the expert, that they don’t explain their choices or give kids any input,” said Legg. “Giving kids choices and explaining what you are asking them to do things a certain way can really help youth development.”
The youth sports league reported improved coaching behaviors after the study was done. The results prompted the league to incorporate professor Legg’s recommended youth coaching principles into its training. It also created a peer review program for coaches to provide important feedback.

Innovation Day

What: University-wide celebration of the mindset that has made ASU the most innovative university in the country four years in a row.

When: Individual events throughout the morning; afternoon central event begins at 3 p.m., with Reggie Watts taking the stage at 5 p.m. (free ticket required for Watts performance; limited number available on ASU mobile app — tap on the side menu and choose "365 Community Union").

Where: Morning events at schools and colleges on all campuses; afternoon event at the south end of Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.

Food: At the stadium event, there will be free food and Starbucks Cold Brew while supplies last. Concession stands will be open for food and beverage purchase as well.

Parking and transit: Free beginning at 2 p.m. in Lot 59 on the north side of Sun Devil Stadium. Enter stadium from the southeast or southwest entrances. Shuttles from Downtown Phoenix, Polytechnic or West campuses will have an additional stop in front of the stadium; those in Tempe can take the FLASH shuttle. Additionally, for the downtown campus, RSVP to the event and show your ID for a free one-day transit pass for light rail (passes available on the day of the event at the Parking and Transportation Services office in UCENT). Those using Lyft can use the code INNOVATIONDAY for 20 percent off rides to and from Sun Devil Stadium.

Online: Afternoon event will be streamed on ASU's Facebook page. You can also follow along on various social media by searching for the hashtag #ASUInnovationDay.