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Thriving Through Sports

Sports are an excellent way to build relationships with young people. In addition to athletic skills and endurance, young athletes need the mental and emotional life skills to succeed in a competitive environment. Through sports, there are opportunities to foster compassion, positive identity, empowerment, humility and thriving.

In this video, Search Institute CEO Ben Houltberg shares the importance of sports, as a context to build Developmental Relationships with young people as an invitation for reflection. Whether you are an athletic director, coach, or even a volunteer with a youth-serving organization, you have the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with young athletes both on and off the field. And, research shows that investing in relationships leads to positive outcomes, such as improved athletic performance.


Thriving Through Sports

Resource Audience

Adults Youth Program Leaders Parenting Adults Teachers School / Youth Program Staff Facilitators School / Youth Organization Leaders

Resource Type


Read Time

Under 5 Minutes

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  • What relationships were most instrumental in helping you get where you are today?
  • In what ways did those relationships support you in reaching your goals? 
  • How can you use the same practices/approaches with your own athletes?

So, what happens in relationships that make them so important to our growth and learning? Our research has identified five key elements —expressed in 20 specific actions—that make relationships powerful in young people’s lives. We call it the developmental relationships framework. By getting familiar and understanding the elements and actions that make developmental relationships you are taking the first step to becoming more intentional about it.