Coach talk: Linguistic demands inherent in youth sports


Purpose: This investigation expands the notion of academic language to extracurricular activities and provides preliminary data regarding linguistic expectations that are placed on students who are participating in youth sports. Method: Five coaches of young girls' basketball teams (2 competitive; 3 recreational) were observed during practice sessions divided into individual versus group and stationary versus active contexts. Communication was characterized with various measures of content, form, and use. Results: Coaches rarely used pauses or communicative repetitions. Recreational coaches' utterances contained more mazes than competitive coaches' utterances. Utterances used during stationary activities tended to be longer and contain more than one verb compared to utterances used during active activities; sentence fragments were more frequent during active contexts. All coaches used jargon quite frequently. Clinical Implications: The system reported here can be used to document linguistic demands in other extracurricular activities, such as music programs and scouting. Speech-language pathologists might include clinical activities to help students deal successfully with the linguistic requirements that are inherent in sporting activities.


Communication Sciences and Disorders

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Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools