Role of parents in sport

Written by Anna Bachrata (Bulldogs Brno) and Dagmar Heiland Travnikova (Masaryk University) / Czech Republic

How to include parents in the sports club activities and share the same goal – a happy and motivated moving kid!
Do you have to deal with passive parents with no interest in their children’s sport? On the contrary, do you have to ask parents to stop interfering in your coaching job? In this blog, we will introduce different methods of including parents in the Bulldogs sports club community so that they feel important, useful and supportive.

Parents as models for their kids

Family is the basic element of a kid’s successful professional life or sports path. The parents can very specifically contribute to the fulfilment of the meaningful learning needs of their kid. Parents act as a behaviour role model and as an idol to be imitated and followed. They are the natural authority for their kids. They have a great impact on their kids‘ attitude to movement and sport. Undoubtedly, parents comprise a major contributing factor in children’s sport.

Movement is a biological need of children, which decreases along with age. This may often be caused by an inappropriate parent model. In the best case, parents can teach their kids positive habits and attitudes important in life. One of these areas is definitely a healthy lifestyle, nutrition and physical activity. If parents are not used to spending their free time actively and doing sport, it is very likely for their kid to have the same lifestyle in future. Parents are recognised for their important role in providing the necessary financial and logistical support to enable sporting opportunities for their kids.

It is generally known that parents should go for walks with their kids, ride a bike, ski, swim or hike. Even if we are not talking about a top sports performance here, the result is very similar in the area of the kid’s development. When did you last go cross-country skiing or build a snowman with your kids?

Parental commitment to their child’s sport

Parents are often the primary socializing agents for getting children involved, often teaching the first steps referring to sports skills, and many young elite athletes emphasize the supportive influence of their parents during their career. Parents who are or have been active athletes themselves may initially act as the child’s first coach, and are highly committed to their children’s careers. They invest money, time, and emotional support into their kids.

Too much or too little interest?

The parental involvement in their child’s sport ranges from under involvement through moderate attitude to over involvement. Whereas moderate involvement seems to facilitate a sport career, both under involved, disinterested parents and, at the opposite extreme, overly engaged parents, may play a disruptive role. 

As youth athletes with disinterested parents may lack the necessary instrumental and emotional support at home that would enable them to pursue a sport career, they are more likely to drop out from sport and need more support from other authorities, such as teachers or coaches. On the other hand, children with over involved parents do not complain about a lack of interest, but instead may perceive high levels of parental pressure. More active parental involvement may also suggest to children that they need to repay the investment of time, effort, and money made by parents.

You as a coach may kindly inform the parents of your sports kids, that if they want to encourage without pressuring, they need to refrain from becoming so involved with their child’s sport that they take on responsibility for, or even interfere with, the training of the young athlete. During our training sessions or games, we often have to manage problems with emotional parents who are yelling at their playing kid from the stands of the sports hall.      Sometimes the parents express negative comments even to the referee of the game. It is always a very uncomfortable moment both for the playing kid and the coach.

Parents within the sports club community

In our sports club, together with the parents, we focus on raising good athletes and good people in general from our sports kids. Therefore, we need to cooperate. For the coach, the trust and support of parents is very important. We want to create a friendly community together with the parents, where we do not see the parents only as those who pay the fee for their kid, who bring the kid to the training and take him home again. On the contrary, the parent is a crucial link in the child’s motivation and an active member himself or herself. We support the parents to push our club – the place where their kids spend a lot of time – a step further.

„Regular activities and events (training sessions, parent council, etc.) are an ideal opportunity to build and support positive attitude of the parents to the Bulldogs Club and also to generate new ideas to improve the functioning of the club. During our discussions, we often talk about topics that primarily lead to one goal – creating motivating environment for the sports and social development of our kids. Speaking for me, I´m very happy to be a part of this community and I think it´s great that our community lives a floorball life together!“

Tonda, a parent of a Bulldogs Club sports kid

Pre-season meetings

At the beginning of each season, we organize pre-season meetings of coaches and parents of the kids of each age category. They are introduced to each other, the coaches evaluate the past season and training work and introduce their goals for the up-coming season. The coaches also explain the rules, requirements and principles of communication with the parents and the kids. Afterwards, a discussion follows that leads to the unification of common ideas and plans.

Parent council

Selected representatives of these parental meetings are then elected in the parent council that meets the club delegates several times per year. President of the club, head coach, marketing specialist and an assistant who are responsible for the law issues, propagation issues or group orders of sports equipment for the children, etc.  join this meeting as well. The club representatives present important issues to the parents and collect feedback. Thanks to these meetings, new projects, such as pre-Christmas team creating a new bags design or a club outlet session of second-hand floorball equipment, were organised.

“I have two daughters, aged 10 and 12 and they both play floorball. I enjoy recording the floorball games and sending the videos to the coaches. It’s been the second year of my participation in the parent council. The first meeting of the council was quite emotional as it was the first opportunity for the parents to give feedback, especially on stuff that we are not happy about. Since then, many things have changed positively, and parental meetings are much calmer now. My wife and I, together with our daughters, come regularly to Friday training sessions.”

a parent of Bulldogs Club sports kid

Special training sessions for parents

Besides the information sharing, we also organise special training sessions for parents several times per year. Coaches invite the parents who can thus experience a training session together with their kids. For the children, these training sessions are unique. They want to show their skills and they are much more motivated than during a normal training, when parents just sit on the stands of the sports hall. These special trainings usually take place twice a season, e.g. shortly before Christmas or at the very end of the season. By participating in these trainings, the parents show their kids their interest and active approach to sport and healthy lifestyle.

We organise extra training sessions for active parents who are especially fond of floorball sport. They take place every Friday and focus directly on parents and friends of the club. We are very happy to see the kids joining these Friday trainings as well. Sometimes they take part in the game or they may work on their individual skills besides the floorball field.

Seasonal events 

We realize the busy lifestyle and lack of time of the parents of our sports kids during the sports season. That is why we also want the parents to get to know each other in a non-formal environment before or after the season. Therefore, at the beginning of the new season, before Christmas or as a closing of the finishing season, we organise special seasonal events, where they can meet each other and the coaches in a non-formal setting. Typically, we would organise a bowling tournament or barbecue party for them.

Information sharing, social networking

This active parent community even has its own Facebook fun page called @bulldogsbrnolife. The parents themselves create and share the content of this page. Parents usually post photos from tournaments or joint events, videos or game results.

Further reading:

Do you want to learn more tricks and tips for a mutually effective cooperation with parents? Check different ways of getting the parents and coaches together by Jum Taylor


Authors:

Dagmar Heiland Travnikova (Faculty of Sports Studies, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic). Dagmar´s areas of pedagogical and research interest include adapted physical activities, psychomotor games or social circus techniques. She gives workshops and seminars for national and international target audiences of a different age and background.

Anna Bachrata (Bulldogs Brno, Czech Republic). Anna is a trainer and coach in Bulldogs Brno sports club. She has been responsible for girls categories aged 13-16 since 2015. She studies at the Faculty of Sports Studies, Masaryk University and aims to deepen her knowledge concerning sports psychology.

References:

Elliott, S.K., Drummond, M.J.N. (2017). Parents in youth sport: what happens after the game? IN Sport, Education and Society, 22:3, 391-406

Wuerth, S., Lee, M.J., Alfermann, D. (2004). Parental involvement and athletes’ career in youth sport. IN Psychology of Sport and Exercise Volume 5, Issue 1, January 2004, Pages 21-33.

http://www.sportparent.eu/en/roles-of-parents-in-sportttps://dspace.cuni.cz/bitstream/handle/20.500.11956/94391/120288269.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Taylor, J. (2016). Five Ways to Get Coaches and Parents on the Same Side. IN www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-power-prime/201610/five-ways-get-coaches-and-parents-the-same-side