(The information in this article was taken or adapted from the High Performance Coaching Program Study Guide.)
The social development of children and adolescents can be broken down into three main age ranges: 8 to 11, 12 to 15, and 15 to 18.
From ages 8 to 11, children primarily interact with adults. Adults serve as the primary role models, and children spend the greatest amount of time with adults, usually parents. Approval from adults is of paramount importance during this early stage of social development.
From ages 12 to 15, a shift occurs in which adolescents spend a greater amount of time with peers and seeks their approval. Peer group interaction and approval dictate many of the behaviors of adolescents during this time period.
Finally, between the ages of 15 to 18, the concept of self or individual becomes more apparent. During this time period, adolescents are more independent. While peer group interaction and approval are still important, many behaviors are dictated by the desire to be independent and to differentiate oneself from others.
The change in focus from adults, to peers, and finally to the individual is clearly evident in junior tennis players, and knowing this may help you understand and integrate concepts important for working with players in these age ranges.