Saturday, 20 Jul 2024

The Importance of Accountable Sports Parents

Youth sports parents play a vital role in shaping their children’s athletic journey. They not only act as former athletes, coaches, fans, and motivators but also serve as influencers and role models. Research has shown that parents have a more significant impact on their child’s involvement and achievement in sports than coaches. Additionally, parents play a crucial role in determining whether their children can enjoy the social benefits of participating in sports.

It is, therefore, essential for sports parents to be aware of their actions and be accountable for them, as they directly influence their young athletes. This article will explore the importance of accountable sports parents and how their attitudes and behaviors can affect their children’s experience in sports.

Accounting for Your Attitude

One of the critical factors in a child’s attraction and competence in playing sports is parental encouragement. Parents who provide positive encouragement instill a greater sense of enjoyment, ability, and motivation in their child. Studies conducted by Windee M. Weiss, Ph.D., from the University of Northern Iowa, emphasize the significance of parents modeling good behavior and being accountable for their actions. Parents can help their children interpret their sport experiences and develop coping strategies for dealing with competition and losing. Furthermore, children’s perception of their parents’ interest in their sports involvement predicts their continued engagement in sports.

Research by the University of Minnesota’s Diane Wiese-Bjornstal reveals that how girls perceive their parents’ assessment of their abilities affects their likelihood of participating and staying in sports. If parents do not have confidence in their children’s abilities, it may undermine the children’s self-belief as well.

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Being Responsible for Their Readiness

A study conducted by researchers from Yale University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Michigan suggests that children participate in organized activities, such as sports, because they want to, not because their parents force them to. However, parents still need to consider whether their child is mentally, emotionally, socially, and physically mature enough to participate in sports. Just like readiness for school, readiness for a sport is crucial. Younger children require more positive guidance initially until they start developing and mastering the sport.

Pros and Cons for Parents

Parents also benefit from their child’s involvement in sports. Research by Wiersma and Fifer shows that parents experience positive outcomes, such as watching their child learn new skills and having the opportunity to interact with other parents.

However, excessive parental pressure and unrealistic expectations can create stress and hinder their child’s enjoyment of sports. Studies by Bois et al., Power and Woolger, and Van Yperen confirm that negative parental support and pressure lead to competitive anxiety, interpersonal difficulties among teammates, and even dropout rates. On the other hand, lower parental pressure has been associated with children enjoying their sport more.

An overemphasis on extrinsic goals, such as winning, trophies, and status, can overshadow intrinsic goals, where children derive joy from playing, mastering skills, and improving their game. Coaches also report that children’s performance is affected by the presence of parents. Moreover, parents who lack self-awareness and accountability for their actions are more likely to create conflicts for coaches, especially during the critical phase when their child is transitioning trust from the parent to the coach.

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Research by LaVoi and Stellino shows that children whose parents create anxiety about failure and prioritize winning are more likely to engage in poor sport behaviors. Another study by Guivernau and Duda demonstrates how athletes’ perception of their parents’ approval of cheating and aggression influences their own views on appropriate sport behavior.

When youth athletes perceive their parents as supportive, positive, and focused on mastery and enjoyment, they tend to display concern for opponents, grace in losing, and less tendency to trash talk or complain about coaches or playing time. Parents’ accountability for their actions and attitudes impacts not only their athletes’ on-field effort but also their mindset, mood, motivation to continue playing sports, and trust in coaches and authority figures.

Creating accountable youth athletes and young adults starts at home, where parents take responsibility for their actions and model accountability to their children. By doing so, they lay the foundation for their children to follow suit.


FAQ 1: How do parents influence their child’s involvement and achievement in sports?

Parents have a significant influence on their child’s involvement and achievement in sports. Studies have shown that family members, particularly parents, play a more crucial role than coaches. Parental encouragement, positive behavior modeling, and interest in their child’s sports involvement are critical factors affecting a child’s attraction, competence, and lasting involvement in sports.

FAQ 2: What role do parents play in helping their child cope with competition and losing?

Parents play a vital role in helping their child develop coping strategies for dealing with competition and losing in sports. By providing positive encouragement, modeling good behavior, and being supportive, parents can instill a greater sense of enjoyment, ability, and motivation in their child. This helps the child interpret their sport experiences and develop resilience when facing challenges on and off the field.

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FAQ 3: How can parents create a positive sports environment for their child?

Parents can create a positive sports environment by focusing on intrinsic goals, such as mastery, skill development, and enjoyment, rather than solely emphasizing extrinsic goals like winning and trophies. They should provide positive reinforcement, show interest in their child’s sports experiences, and encourage a healthy mindset. By supporting their child’s sports journey with empathy, understanding, and accountability, parents can nurture a love for sports and enhance their child’s overall experience.


Accountable sports parents play a crucial role in their children’s sports journey. Their attitudes, behaviors, and support significantly impact their young athletes’ involvement, enjoyment, and achievement in sports. By being aware, accountable, and modeling positive behavior, parents can create a supportive and nurturing sports environment for their children. This not only enhances their child’s sports experience but also influences their mindset, motivation, and trust in coaches and authority figures. It’s essential for parents to prioritize their child’s well-being and enjoyment in sports, fostering accountable and resilient youth athletes.

Remember, being an accountable sports parent doesn’t just benefit the child but also enriches the parent’s experience, allowing them to witness their child’s growth, learn new skills, and connect with other parents. So, let’s embrace the role of accountable sports parents and create a positive sporting culture for our youth.