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Parental Involvement in the Kids’ Sports Performance: 7 Surprising Benefits

April 28, 2023

8 min read

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Author : United We Care
Parental Involvement in the Kids’ Sports Performance: 7 Surprising Benefits


An athlete’s journey often begins in childhood, meaning parents have a significant role in their sports journeys. Parents’ involvement in sports performance is vital and substantially impacts a child’s performance. This article explores in depth the role of parents in sports and how parents can provide a supportive environment for budding athletes.

What is Parental Involvement in the Kids’ Sports Performance?

What is the Role of Parents in the Sports Performance of the Kids

Recent research suggests that compared to previous generations, involvement, as well as the investment of parents in sports, has increased [1]. Some define parents’ participation as investing time, energy, and financial resources, such as arranging transportation, being present at practices and games, providing guidance and support, and buying necessary sports gear [2]. However, the role of parents and the impact they have is not limited to this simplistic definition.

In 2004, researchers Fredricks and Eccles [3] emphasized that in the context of sports, parents can have three key roles: providers, role models, and interpreters.

Parental Involvement as Providers

Children depend on parents for introductory provisions such as the cost of coaching, transportation, nutrition, and opportunities. One of the central roles of parents is to provide this material support to children when undertaking their sporting journey. It has been found that parents are a vital link in delivering children’s emotional support through tough matches and informational support on various aspects of sports [4].

Parental Involvement as Role Models

Children learn through observation, and parents are the primary role models of behavior. In sports, parents who are active and involved in marks are likely to influence children’s participation positively, especially in female participation in sports [3].

Parents can also model emotions and cope with emotions regarding sports [4]. For instance, dealing with anxiety preceding a match, disappointment within a game, and feelings associated with a win or a loss post a game. How parents react verbally with a partner and respond to losses (whether the child’s or their own) can be a model for the young athlete.

Parental Involvement Interpreters of Experiences

Young athlete is likely to have a range of experiences as they go through their journey in sports. Parents’ interpretation of certain events and belief in the importance of winning or losing can generate high or low-pressure environments [3]. When pressure is high, children experience higher anxiety and lesser enjoyment compared to when this pressure is low.

Further, parents’ beliefs about their children’s competence, sports values, and expectations directly relate to how children perceive their athletic competence. When parents value participation and effort over winning and losing, the child is more likely to develop a positive view of their competency.

What are The Benefits of Parental Involvement in the Kids’ Sports Performance?

Benefits of Parents 'Role in the Kids' Sports Performance

Parents are essential in the child’s sporting journey. A positive presence by the parents can have many benefits for the child. For instance:

  1. It can provide the child with necessary materialistic, emotional, and social support and better opportunities [3] [4].
  2. It can contribute to high self-esteem and low performance anxiety and create a setting reinforcing effort, cooperation, and improvement [3] [5].
  3. It can teach positive coping mechanisms when feeling intense emotions related to the game [3][4].
  4. It can motivate the child to continue investing time and energy in sports and influence long-term participation [6].
  5. It can enhance the child’s performance on the field and satisfaction off the field [7].
  6. It can help the child learn to take responsibility for one’s actions and inculcate discipline in one’s life.
  7. Finally, it can increase enjoyment in sports and contribute to an overall positive experience [3].

It is important to note here that the nature of this involvement is essential. Parents must also learn skills to manage their emotions and stress [8]. In cases where involvement is negative, it can lead to an outcome opposite to the one described above [5].

Why is Parental Involvement in the Kids’ Sports Performance


Parent involvement influences all aspects of the sporting experience of a child.

  • Parents offering children emotional, tangible, and informational support, unconditional love, encouragement, and praise can enhance their sports experiences, increase their enjoyment, and unlock their potential.
  • Therefore, when children perceive their parents’ behavior as pressuring, for instance, having unrealistic expectations, criticizing their performance, or withholding love based on competition outcomes, it can result in negative experiences in sports [2].
  • However, beyond this influence, parents have been understood as a critical element in a child’s social network in sports.
  • They form a link in the “athletic triangle,” which consists of 3 primary agents of sports: athlete, coach, and parent [9].
  • The role of the athlete and coach is evident in this dynamic.
  • On the other hand, parents influence the relationship between the coach and the athlete [10] [4]. They also function as critical elements in creating a social network for getting information and resources when they bond and make relationships with the parents of other children [4].

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Tips for Parental Involvement in the Kids’ Sports Performance

Tips for Parents 'Role in Sports Performance of Kids

The involvement of parents and children is crucial to how the child will experience their sporting journey.  Following are some tips that parents of young athletes can remember for the best results:

  1. Provide support but provide autonomy as well. Children often want help, especially when they have low motivation, but they also want freedom and space when interacting with peers or making decisions about their journey [1].
  2. Avoid over-involvement in the child’s journey. The child decides to choose a sport, participate and set one’s own goals. Over-involvement has been linked with perceived pressure and adverse outcomes in sporting performance [11].
  3. Younger children provide opportunities to sample different sports, whereas older children offer means to specialization. Adjusting one’s involvement as per the developmental stage is crucial for positive participation [4].
  4. Learn about the child’s sport to provide necessary feedback and information.
  5. Identify the child’s goals and be cautious about whether your involvement comes from a need to fulfill your goal or the child’s. Sometimes parents project their dreams onto their children, negatively impacting them [9].
  6. It is crucial not to take the coach role or become too emotionally invested in the child’s performance in the sporting arena. Remember to remain a spectator and cheer the whole team and the child.
  7. Develop a positive relationship with the coach. Understand what the coach may require from you during the sports journey.
  8. Be emotional support for the child and model healthy coping mechanisms. It is essential to emphasize participation rather than outcomes to develop healthy beliefs in children.


Children’s journey in sports heavily relies on the crucial role played by their parents. A parent’s involvement can significantly impact how children perform, perceive, and experience sports. Parents have a multi-faceted role in their children’s sporting journey, including providers, role models, and interpreters of experiences. It can be a crucial element in the success of young athletes.


  1. S. Wheeler and K. Green, “Parenting about children’s sports participation: Generational changes and potential implications,” Leisure Studies, vol. 33, no. 3, pp. 267–284,2012.Available here
  2. C. J. Knight, T. E. Dorsch, K. V. Osai, K. L. Haderlie, and P. A. Sellars, “Influences on parental involvement in youth sport.,” Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 161–178,2016. Available here 
  3. J. A. Fredricks and J. S. Eccles, “Parental Influences on Youth Involvement in Sports,” in Developmental Sport and Exercise Psychology: A Lifespan Perspective, Morgantown, Virginia: Fitness Information Technology, 2004, pp. 145–164. Available here
  4. C. G. Harwood and C. J. Knight, “Parenting in youth sport: A position paper on parenting expertise,” Psychology of Sport and Exercise, vol. 16, pp. 24–35, 2015. Available here
  5. F. J. Schwebel, R. E. Smith, and F. L. Smoll, “Measurement of perceived parental success standards in sport and relations with athletes’ self-esteem, performance anxiety, and achievement goal orientation: Comparing parental and coach influences,” Child Development Research, vol. 2016, pp. 1–13, 2016. Available here
  6.  P. D. Turman, “Parental sports involvement: Parental influence to encourage young athlete continued sport participation∗,” Journal of Family Communication, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 151–175, 2007. Available here
  7. P. Coutinho, J. Ribeiro, S. M. da Silva, A. M. Fonseca, and I. Mesquita, “The influence of parents, coaches, and peers in the long-term development of highly skilled and less skilled volleyball players,” Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 12, 2021. Available here
  8. C. Harwood and C. Knight, “Stress in youth sport: A developmental investigation of tennis parents,” Psychology of Sport and Exercise, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 447–456, 2009. Available here
  9. F. L. Smoll, S. P. Cumming, and R. E. Smith, “Enhancing coach-parent relationships in youth sports: Increasing harmony and minimizing hassle,” International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 13–26, 2011. Available here
  10. S. Jowett and M. Timson-Katchis, “Social networks in sport: Parental influence on the coach-athlete relationship,” The Sport Psychologist, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 267–287, 2005.
  11. V. Bonavolontà, S. Cataldi, F. Latino, R. Carvutto, M. De Candia, G. Mastrorilli, G. Messina, A. Patti, and F. Fischetti, “The role of parental involvement in youth sports experience: Perceived and desired behavior by male soccer players,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 18, no. 16, p. 8698, 2021. Available here 

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Author : United We Care

Founded in 2020, United We Care (UWC) is providing mental health and wellness services at a global level, UWC utilizes its team of dedicated and focused professionals with expertise in mental healthcare, to solve 2 essential missing components in the market, sustained user engagement and program efficacy/outcomes.

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