How do parents influence their youth sports?

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How do parents influence their youth sports?


Anyone who has a keen interest in sports should not ignore the role parents play in the performance of their children in any of the sports. Even when they(the children) are mature enough to make decisions on  their own. The youth on the other hand have accepted this parental guidance role in many aspects and even in other careers  not necessarily sports. The coaches only play the role of teaching and training where as it is the parents who fill the other entire gap for their young players (Gilbert, Gilbert, & Trudel, 2001).  Indeed parents remain the role models for their children in attitude, sportsmanship, fair playing and practice.

There are a few parents though whose influence in the performance pof their kids in the sports they participate in is negative.

However, some parents have the tendency to argue with coaches and in some cases looking like they are the better ones in the game. These negligible cases though cannot undermine the greater role that most parents play. This research proposal tackles the role of the parents in the youth sport and how the involvement of the parents in youth sport impacts either positively or negatively in the development of the youths in their sports of choice(. Smith, 2003).


There are many reasons why parents will always remain influential in the lives and decisions of their kids. In fact, in most cases it is not what they say or advise, it is how they react to what their children do. Any positive reaction to the good performance of their kids in anything will always boost the morale of those children. Their participation and performance in sports is not an exception. The other reason is because children always enjoy watching and copying the behaviors they see other players demonstrate (Hoyle, & Leff, 1997). So it is the parent who is the first person to identify what kind of sport his/her child enjoys most and then introduce the child into that sport by providing the necessary support the child may need in succeeding in that sport (Csikszentmihalyi, M., Rathunde, K., & Whalen,1993). Research has often revealed that parents play a crucial role in development of young players. When Some parents play an excellent role in ensuring that their juniors do well in sports others may impact negatively although not intentional to the player talent development. (Smith,2003)

Literature review

Previous studies on the subject have shown that parents involvement in the sport of the youth can be looked into as a continuum from not being involved completely to being fully involved. It can range from positive to negative or from low to high as scholars say.  Positive support includes verbal encouragement, parent’s presence in the game, allowing the child to make his/ her own decision about what sport to participate in and what team to play for, and providing financial and other resources that enable the child to participate (James & Ziemer, August 8, 2001).

The youth can also be influenced negatively through directive statements as opposed to guidance. Pressure to win and perform to the parents’ expectation (Baker, & Robertson-Wilson, 2003).  Research done recently provides that there is a great relationship between the parents’ involvement and the type of youth sports experience a child poses for example, studies provide that top junior players had parents fully involved in their athletic sports experiences who imparted the values needed for the excellence at the top games (Helsen, Starkes, & Hodges, 1998). So it seems to be paradoxical that the participation of the parent is essential for the development of the talent of the youth, but at the same time it can cause adverse effects to some players (Feigley, 1983).

There are phases through which youth development in sports develops. There are mainly three phases. The first phase is in the earlier years of the child development. The parent must participate in helping the child in liking the game (Weirsma, 2000).  In this phase the child’s participation is recreational in nature (Wankel, & Berger, 1990).  Here there is not much emphasis placed in the game but only the fun the child gets. The role of the parent in this phase is in providing the financial means and transportation.  Also the parents can afford the opportunity to push the child to play but not to pressure the child to win.  Here, parents display emotions control and encourage the “fun” (Wright & Côté, 2003).

The development in the middle years involves the child beginning to train in a systematic way many times in a week (Weitzer, 1989).  Here the child has already chosen the kind of sport he/she likes most often they may go for competitions and need a great deal of coaching to succeed in the game at this phase. To add to the above supportive behavior the parents must ensure that their child’s game is kept in track (Wankel, & Mummery 1990).

The positive role of the parent here is to ensure that the child has all the needed facilities and coaching again they must instill the values of hard working and commitment regardless of the outcome of the competition. Negative parental involvement in this phase is too much emphasis on wining, too much talking, reacting emotionally during matches, restricting the player’s social life too much and becoming over-involved (Raedeke, & Smith, 2001). One incident of the parent negative behavior had occurred in 2000 when there was youth hockey game in Massachusetts.

The incident involved two men who were watching that game argued about the incident and ended up fighting twice. The second fight unfortunately resulted in the beating to death of one of the parents. This indicator if parents are not familiar with the code of conducts parents can end up, debating or conflicting. These confrontations may lead to the spoiling of the youth games and sports (Wuerth, Lee, & Alfermann, 2004).

The  next stage of development is  referred to as the elite phase.  It is the stage where the children need much more training often during the week and under the master coach (Smith, Smoll, & Curtis, 1978).  At this stage, the sport occupies the central role in the life of the player.  Here the younger player may be required to participate internationally and nationally.

Objectives of the study

The study has an objective to establish and determine the extent parents’ involvement in any of their children’s sport is influences those them in enjoyment and performance of the sport they participate in. Secondly this research intends to determine the level to which the parent’s involvement with youth sports impacts on the youth performance and the youth perception of their performance both subjectively and objectively.


Whereas parental support affects the player’s self-enjoyment of the sport and appraisal of self-worth and self-esteem, parental pressure negatively, impacts on the youth play enjoyment, self-esteem, and self worth.

The perceived parental support positively affects both subjective and objective performance of the youth play. And parental pressure impacts negatively on subjective performance while it impacts positively on objective performance.

Research methodology and procedure

The Research methods that were used in this study and the collection of the relevant and positive information concerning this topic of study included interviewing the involved parties, the youth players’ parents and coaches. The questionnaire was be prepared and be given to the relevant people to fill in and it will mainly focus on the role of parents in the youth sport, and finally a survey will be carried out where the researcher will visit places of sport competitions, attend to the training ground, visit the individual players in their homes and finally compile the data from the findings.

The objective of this research is to establish and determine the extent to which parental involvement in any of their children’s sport is influential in the children’s enjoyment of the sport they participate in.  Secondly, to determine the level to which the parent involvement with youth sports impacts on the youth performance and the youth perception of their performance.  Both the aspects of subjective and objective performance were chosen for each aspect and it has its own part in the players experience on performance.

Choice of research philosophy

The research strategy besides choice of methods is important in this research.  It indicates the methods that the researcher adapts to answer the research objectives and issues surrounding the role of the parents in the youth sport.  In this research interviews and questionnaire will be used most because of their applicability in any contemporary situation in real life.

The questionnaire will be used because it is the best method to collect the exploratory information for instance it will help in the collection of qualitative information on the role of parents in the youth sport for the purposes of better understanding and help in the generation of hypotheses on this research topic.

On the type of interviews to be used unstructured type of interview will be used because of its convenience between the interviewee and the interviewer. This kind of interview allows the interviewee to naturally answer the questions because the researcher also generates the questions naturally there and then. This helps in getting the most relevant information on the topic of research without biasness when the right person was selected for interview.

Most of the questions will be open ended to give the contributors a chance to s hare all what they know in as far as the parents’ contribution to their children’s sport is concerned.

Design employed

The research used a randomized, single blind approach in the data collection to enable ,it compare the different ways through which parents or guardians have impacted on their children. The use of web based randomized design also proved to be beneficial. (Marcoca et al 2009)

Research validity and reliability

This research being survey based, all questions are related to theoretical characteristics discussed in literature review. The process of interview and questionnaire would therefore be accurate in collecting, analyzing and sampling data; hence the validity of result would be quite high.

Ethical consideration

The participants who are the player’s parents and coaches will be given different questionnaires based on specific areas of interests.  The approval or the disapproval of participation will be based on its merits and demerits as determined after conducting the research.  All the participants will be given their respectively informed consent for the purpose of participation in the research.  They will be informed prior to the research, the purposes, the potential benefits as well as the risks that might be associated with their participation.  Ethical standards will be considered in the process of the procedures of the research.

Expected results/findings

Sports competitions provide great experience to the youth when they participate. It becomes more exciting and interesting when the parents share in the experience by participating in their support and attempting to win with them in their sports of choice (Baker, Côté, & Abernethy, 2003).  Parents actually want and like to see their children win and succeed in the games they participate in but they must avoid incidences, which draw the attention to themselves rather than the child participating in the game.  When parents raise attention to themselves It becomes very embarrassing to the youth, may end up discouraging the child from participating, and may end up quitting the competition (Brustad, 1993).

This research study is expected to find that in situations where the parent showed the following traits the player had a very good positive experience and often excelled.  Those positive parental traits include where the parent:

  • Provided love and support unconditionally without expecting any gain in return.
  • Gave both motivation and encouragement and more so put more emphasis on the enjoyment and fun rather than setting for them unattainable expectations.
  • Provided the most important resource of finance and logistics.
  • Had good perception on youth sports and did not doubt the development of such sports (Barnett, Smoll & Smith, 1992).
  • Prevailed all the opportunities for further development in that sport to the youth (Horn, & Harris, 2002).
  • Instilled good values of hardworking and preparations while maintaining core values of the sport.
  • Put emphasis on the child’s development than winning games
  • Put focus on performance and not on the results.
  • Did not trespass the boundaries set for players and parents by the coaches.
  • Concerned about the friendship and social benefits associated with the sport.
  • Helped the player to balance the responsibilities.
  • Put trust on the coach to train the child to the required standard (Werthner, & Trudel, 2006).

Expected in this research also are the traits that negatively impacted on the players performance and development.  These traits including situations when the parents:

  • Were too demanding and had very high expectations of their children’s performance because they wanted something in return due to high investments they put in the child’s participation of the competition (Martin, Jackson, Richardson, & Weiller, 1999).
  • Become too involved in the sport till they created negative experience.
  • They pushed too hard due to the unrealistic expectations they had.
  • They become too judgmental and compared their children with others too much.
  • They coached their own children not leaving the child to get the best training (Salminen, & Liukkonen, 1996) from the master coach.
  • They put more pressure on the child to win at all costs not considering the level of the competition.
  • Depended entirely on the child’s sport earnings for their upkeep and all other family requirements (Curtis, McTeer & White, 1999).
  • Become confrontational and took the sport too seriously (Gould, Udry, Tuffey, & Loehr, 1996).

Limitations of the research

Limitations are usually present in every research and these limitations actually tamper with the results of the research.  One of the biggest limitations of this research will be lack of budget and lack of time.  Besides that there are certain other limitations like the non-serious attitude of the respondents rendering the interviews that will be conducted and the questionnaire giving in accurate information.  More so it is expected that some participants will in one way or the other give false information for their own malicious gains and this will limit the validity of the data collected for analysis.


In a nut shell Parents play an important role in the development of youth sports since without parents an individual cannot have the moral and financial support to carry out his/her career. Parents are the key to success and most of the sportsmen who are remembered by everyone today were morally and financially supported by their parents.  This research has covered different aspects that show how parents can support a young sportsman and the motivational factors accompanied with a young individuals parental support.  Finally, it can be concluded that parental support and pressure play a prominent role in the future development of the youth who make sports their life time career.


Anderson, Funk, Elliott,& Smith, H,2003, Parental support and pressure and children’s extracurricular activities: Relationships with amount of involvement and affective experience of participation. Applied Developmental Psychology, 24, 241-257.

Baker, & Côté, J, 2006, Shifting training requirements during athlete development: The relationship among deliberate practice, deliberate play and other sport involvement in the acquisition of sport expertise. Essential processes for attaining peak performance (93-110). Germany: Meyer and Meyer.

Baker, Côté, & Abernethy, B, 2003, Learning from the experts: Practice activities of expert decision makers in sport. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 74, 342-347.

Baker, & Robertson-Wilson, J, 2003, On the risks of early specialization in sport. Physical and Health Education Journal, 69, 4-8.

Barnett, Smoll, & Smith, R,1992, Effects of enhancing coach-athlete relationships on youth sport attrition. The Sport Psychologist, 6, 111-127

Brustad, R, 1993, Who will go out and play? Parental and psychological influences on children’s attraction to physical activity. Pediatric Exercise Science, 5, 210-223.

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Csikszentmihalyi, M., Rathunde, K., & Whalen, S. (1993). Talented teenagers: The roots of success and failure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Curtis, McTeer & White, P.1999, Exploring effects of school sport experiences on sport participation later in life. Sociology of Sport Journal, 16, 348-3.

Hoyle, & Leff, 1997, The role of parental involvement in youth sport participation and performance. Adolescence, 32, 233-243.

James, M. & Ziemer, T. August 8, 2001, Bad Sports: With Cues From Adults, Are Kid Athletes Getting More Aggressive?

Martin, Jackson, Richardson, & Weiller, K.1999, Coaching preferences of adolescent youths and their parents. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 11, 247-262.

MacPhail, & Kirk, 2006, Young people’s socialization into sport: Experiencing the specializing phase. Leisure Studies, 25, 57-74

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Smith, Smoll, & Curtis, 1978, Coaching behaviors in little league baseball. In F.L. Smoll, & R.E. Smith (Eds.), Psychological perspectives in youth sports (pp. 173-201). Washington, DC: Hemisphere Publishing Corporation.

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Wuerth, Lee, & Alfermann, 2004, Parental involvement and athletes’ career in youth sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 5, 21-33.  December 5, 2005 from Science Direct database

Proposed Data Handling procedure


The manner in which data is handled can significantly affect the process and ultimately the outcome of the research. This study is aimed at producing a detailed report on handling qualitative data in sports coaching research. Further, this study will outline the process of identifying, performing and interpreting the results of relevant data analysis techniques used in qualitative research. Previous research studies on sports coaching have employed the use of qualitative research techniques whereby a systematic, empirical strategy for answering questions about sport and physical education were used thereby allowing better understanding of subject’s experiences. (Wankel, & Berger, 1990).

 Data collection

Data collection is the one of the basic initial stages in research. It involves gathering information on events, resources, developments, opinions or general variables of interest in a manner that allows a researcher to develop a hypothesis and come up with an evaluation report. Whereas the methods used can be numerous the accuracy and sincerity of the information is very important (Newby, 2005).

 Data collection approaches.

Methodological choice made after proper interaction with those sports officials and the family members of those that took part in all interviews or communication (Morgan, 1980}.

The intention is to identify and compare the reasons of the social and career related occurrences of various groups of sports persons. The roles of the participants are particularly important in the study, their locations or where they are based and the set of events leading to their current performance and choice of career.

Human beings naturally think and take time to reflect on events or occurrences. It is therefore not easy for instance to have a parent tell your out rightly what they believe was behind their child’s sport choices. Collecting data from Parents especially is a task that needs some patients. This is the same think that the people who offered to contribute in this res.............

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