Parental involvement in youth sports: The good, the bad and the ugly

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SUSAN PAPA

SUSAN PAPA

(Part 2 of 3)

Parents often think that it is heir responsibility to push or persuade their children to excel in sports even if their children do not share these aspirations.

Athletes, whose parents are emotionally over-involved, often feel that their parents view them merely as “athletes” and not as “individuals.”

An excitable parent is typically supportive but tends to get “caught up in the heat of the moment.” During practices or competitions, they are typically loud, yelling encouragement or instructions to athletes, coaches and/or officials.


These excitable parents also tend to be overly concerned with the physical safety of their children.

These are the parents that run toward the pool every time their children swim. Although such actions are taken in the best interests of children, they can be embarrassing and distracting to the athlete.

The children of these parents often discourage their parents from attending practices or competitions.

The kind of parent that poses the greatest risk to the long-term development of young athletes is the fanatical parent.

Athletes with parents like the aforementioned experience greater pressure, argue more frequently with coaches and officials, experience more problems with eating and sleeping, show less effort and enjoyment during training sessions, and are more likely to drop out of sports than athletes with normal, supportive parents.

Fanatical type of parents are controlling, confrontational, preoccupied with winning and losing, and believe that their child’s reasons for playing sports are to win medals and trophies, gain superior social status and recognition, or become a professional sports star.

We often have unrealistic expectations about our child’s ability such as our child has the potential to become an Olympian.

These type of parents typically pressure their child with expectations that are out of reach, see their child’s experience as an investment and ignores their child’s concerns.

Some of these parents over identify with their children’s sports achievement for feelings of self-worth.

“If our children are successful, we feel good about themselves. If our children fail, however, we feel bad about themselves.”

“Not surprisingly, this situation places children under high pressure and behave in a manner that is inappropriate for youth sports,” according to Ramon Llaguno 3rd, a parent and a swimmer.

Parents who have been successful athletes themselves often have greater expectations that their children should also be successful athletes.

Many parents who are former athletes want their children to follow their footsteps.

The primary role of parents is to provide financial and provisionary support to their athlete children.

Mostly, these involve transporting children to and from practices and competitions, paying for membership or travel fees, and the provision of appropriate equipment and gear.

The amount of financial and provisionary support varies with the nature of the sport, the level at which the child is competing.

Depending on a family’s financial ability, this could disrupt family life and cause stress.

Parents who have invested a significant amount of time and money in the athletic development of their children often feel that their children should repay them by excelling in sports.

These parents may sometime use guilt to motivate their children to win in their respective sporting events. As a result, young and talented athletes experiencing these stressful and guilt-inducing circumstances commonly experience burnout.

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  1. Parents should not lead their children to the path where they think is right for them to take. They must simply prepare their children to take on every challenge they will face as they go through he path of their choosing. The role of us parents is not difficult,its natural. It should never be stressful to both parent and child. I believe that what we instill in our children will be their weapon as they go through life.