By Johanna R.
When observing youth in sport, one may notice parents sitting on the sidelines cheering only when a participant scores a goal. One may also observe another adult yelling furiously at a participant, referee, or coach from the sidelines. No matter what type of adult you are looking at, you are most likely looking at a parent or an adult who has a significant meaning to one of the children participating.
In most cases of youth participating in sports, the parents have placed their child in the sport and are going to support and/or pressure the child throughout his/her participation in the sport. This post will look into parental involvement in youth sports. I will be looking at parental support and parental pressure in youth sports and attempt to determine if parental involvement is for the better or the detriment of a child.
Parental support is classified as perceived behaviours by children of their parents which promote participation and performance in athletics (Hoyle & Leff, 1997). Parental support includes attending children’s sporting events, cheering children on, and providing children with encouraging, positive comments. Research by Hoyle and Leff (1997) concluded support from parent’s correlated with higher sport enjoyment, higher positive self-worth, and increased positive outcomes in performances.
Parental pressure is classified as perceived behaviours by children of their parents demonstrating intentions of unlikely, possibly unreachable levels of accomplishment (Hoyle & Leff, 1997). Parental pressures include expectations for the child to be the best therefore putting him/her in advanced programs to become the best. A study by Hoyle and Leff (1997) concluded pressure from parents correlated with the child’s regret from participation in sports, stress identified with performance evaluations, and negativity to self-worth.
As for a personal experience, my parents were the supportive type. Always travelling to games, practices, and tournaments, shouting encouraging words from the sidelines, and providing encouragement after a performance. There was never any pressure to be the best of the best or to work harder and better.
Looking at the participant’s perspective, in a study by Jeffery-Tosoni, Fraser, and Baker (2015) the athletes stated a preference for parents’ supportive behaviour, emotional control, and abstaining from demanding or argumentative comments. I understand where the youth are coming from in this study; when my parents watch me play a sport, I hope they will encourage me, but not yell out any harsh words to the coaches, referees, or towards me. Even though the preferred preferences are what the children hope to see, the parents don’t always abide by these unwritten rules.
One cannot determine how a parent will act in a situation such as sport. If you look at the research, it is clear to see, a parent who is supporting a child is providing positive outcomes on a child while a parent who is continually pressuring a child provides a negative outcome on children. Some pressure is good but over doing it can cause negativity.
Hoyle, R. H., & Leff, S. S. (1997). The role of parental involvement in youth sport participation and performance. Adolescence, 32 (125), 233-43.
Jeffery-Tosoni, S., Fraser-Thomas, J., & Baker, J. (2015). Parent involvement in Canadian youth hockey: Experiences and perspectives of peewee players. Journal of Sport Behavior, 38, 1.