Restorative Youth Sports: An Applied Model for Resolving Conflicts and Building Positive Relationships


  • Michael A. Hemphill University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Emily M. Janke University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Barrie Gordon Victoria University of Wellington
  • Haley Farrar Victoria University of Wellington



sport-based youth development, teaching responsibility, restorative practices, youth sports


When handled effectively, conflict provides opportunities to strengthen relationships and assist youth in developing peaceful conflict resolution skills. Sport participation is one context in which youth develop skills and encounter conflict. The purpose of this study was to develop an applied model that addresses conflict resolution in sport-based youth development programs. Using qualitative interviewing, a community-engaged approach guided the selection of participants and data analysis. We used the models of restorative practice and Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility (TPSR) through sports to guide our study. Following interviews with a variety of community partners, we found that the values of sport are often in conflict with restorative practices. However, a relational approach such as TPSR aligns well with the values of restorative practices. Based on our findings, an applied model was developed to illustrate how restorative practice can be utilized in a sport context. The Restorative Youth Sports (RYS) model recognizes that conflicts and tension are natural and inherent to all relationships. When handled appropriately, conflict provides opportunities to strengthen relationships. Youth sport provides a unique context where youth are presented with problems and conflicts to solve and promote healthy relationships among youth.

Author Biography

Michael A. Hemphill, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Michael A Hemphill is assistant professor in the deparmtent of Kinesiology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro


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