Updated: Jun 16
For many years, Masters sports organizations and events have provided a platform for older individuals to come together and participate in a healthy, active sports community. Yet, despite their age, many individuals remain competitive and have a strong passion for sports. You may know someone who fits this description, or you may be a Masters athlete who continues to train regularly and looks forward to upcoming events and competitions.
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In Canada, the popularity of adult sports is on the rise. Masters sports clubs and events offer opportunities for adults to stay physically active, improve their health, and socialize with like-minded individuals. It's not just for competitive athletes, though. Some recreational athletes prefer to stay active without attending events, while others enjoy the welcoming and inclusive environment of Masters sports groups and events. “Masters sport is an excellent opportunity for travel, challenging oneself, negotiating the aging experience, and establishing ongoing friendships. There is clearly a wide range of benefits that Masters athletes receive from their participation in sports events, which may extend beyond what traditional exercise can provide”1.
Dr. Brad Young, a Masters Sport researcher, gave a talk in Ottawa on May 7, 2023. He challenged the Masters athlete in attendance to think of the variety of reasons and motives people have for being an older athlete and specifically how they draw meaning and purpose through their continued sport lifestyle. Dr. Young is an expert in the Masters Athlete Experience (see below the recent book he co-authored). His presentation was titled The Masters Athlete Experience: Living and Competing as Your Authentic Self.
Goal Setting for Masters Athletes
In discussing the benefits of sports as leisure, Dr. Young recommended setting diverse goals for athletes. He emphasized the importance of having experiential, performance, and social goals to achieve balance and engagement in sports effectively. Rather than using the SMART goals approach, he suggests a flexible goal-setting process that allows for multiple objectives and outcomes. For example, when working with Master Athletes like Brad, he encourages them to declare various levels of their goals, the highest being their Ecstatic Goal. Then, he advises them to moderate that goal for alternate levels of satisfaction and enjoyment - as life as an adult can get messy!
Protecting your Sport Enjoyment
During his presentation, Dr. Young suggested several strategies to help Master athletes receive support from their teammates, partners, family, and coaches. This support is crucial in maintaining their participation in sports. In conclusion, Dr. Young stressed the significance of preserving one's enjoyment of sports as one ages. Discovering individual purpose and balance, and becoming a part of a sports community, enhances the quality of Masters sports experiences. In addition, participating in Masters sports helps adults stay active and benefits Canadian communities' health and well-being.
Coaching Masters Athletes: Advancing Research and Practice in Adult Sport explores the research and practice specific to planning to coach Masters athletes and divulges what is known about distinctive considerations for delivering coaching interventions to this cohort, expanding on coaches’ abilities to influence adults’ personal development, as well as their own coach education through Masters Sport.
1. Deneau, J., Dionigi, R., and Horton, S. (2020) The Benefits of Masters Sport to Healthy Aging, SIRC Blog, March 31, 2020 https://sirc.ca/blog/the-benefits-of-masters-sport-to-healthy-aging/
2. Young, B., Rathwell, S., and Callary, B. (2012) Giving Due Deliberation to Masters Athletes: The Time has Come. SIRC Blog, January 11, 2021 https://sirc.ca/blog/giving-due-deliberation-to-masters-athletes/
Dr. Young's Ottawa talk was hosted by:
Mile2Marathon is a run coaching company founded by Olympians Michael Woods and Dylan Wykes.
The First Lap is a cross-country skiing coaching service branch of Canadian Wintersports Inc.