Parental Involvement in Sport

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As a football coach you are always looking at ways to improve the performance of your players and maintain the highest level of coaching. I would like to put forward a proposal of how parental involvement can be encouraged in football.

Cote (1999), found that children who become experts before the age of eight are involved in hundreds of hours of play and practice. Throughout their development the greatest influence on their sporting career will be their parents.

Throughout a child’s career they will experience many different cognitive and developmental changes which will affect the parents socialization and the child’s athletic motivation (Brustad, 1992). As a child gets older they are able to incorporate more social comparative information and this is important for how they interpret feedback from their parents. Younger children will therefore rely more on adult feedback and older children will rely more upon social comparative sources (Hasbrook, 1986). This shows that throughout a child’s development, parental involvement will vary in terms of types and intensity.

Harwood and Swain (2001) argued that parental involvement can play a key role in the motivational implications for athletes. This suggests how important feedback is for a youth player and is something that can affect a player’s physical, emotional and cognitive state. Holt, Tamminen, Black, Sehn and Wall (2008) interviewed four families looking at the involvement of parents in competitive youth sport settings. It was found that verbal reactions were placed on a continuum from more supportive to more controlling. Sometimes parents did not realize when they were giving negative feedback or even derogatory comments. This demonstrates that sometimes parents are too involved in their child’s sport and they do not realise the effects that they are having on their performance. As younger children rely more on feedback it can be argued that positive feedback and encouragement from parents will lead to positive performance.

Throughout a player’s career they will experience many stressful events. Holt, Hoar and Fraser (2005) argued that adolescent athletes use a variety of coping strategies to cope with the stressors. Much interest has been looked into where an athlete learns about coping in sport. Tamminen and Holt (2011) decided to address this issue and found that athletes learn about coping through experiences of trial and error. He also found that parents have a very influential role and they create a supportive context for learning. Therefore a supportive environment will allow the players to feel that they can always speak to their parents when stressed.

Sagar and Lavalle (2010) looked at how fear of failure is developed in adolescents and how daily parental socialization has contributed to this development. Fear of failure is learnt through behavioural, cognitive and emotional experiences and in sport the fear of failure has been associated with negative emotions such as worry, stress and anxiety (Conroy, Willow & Metzler, 2002). A parent’s negative response to their child’s failure (e.g. high expectations and demands) can play a role in their fear of failure development. For example love withdrawal can contribute to the development of fear of failure. This is “a practice whereby parents withdraw their affection or create a physical separation from their child when the child behaves in an undesirable manner” (Chapman & Zahn-Waxler, 1982).  Therefore parents should be aware of how they can influence their child’s behaviour as it can have a serious affect on their future development. Young players should be given positive feedback which will influence their behaviour allowing them to stay motivated and constantly working towards the goal of wanting to win.

Overall parents should provide an environment which allows their children to feel comfortable and they should be aware of how they can influence their childrens cognitive, behavioural and developmental processes.

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  1. Pingback: Little League Athletes, Major League Problems: Psycho Parents | Don`t Mention The King

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