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Youth sport – The importance of a connected support network

The emphasis in youth sport is on the parents and coaches working effectively together to best support the child.

However, one reminder before we jump in to this topic is that we need to help young people to build the skills they need to work with coaches and parents and communicate effectively.

Of course this is difficult and until they reach this point parents and coaches may need to lead on conversations but this needs to be done with the child's goals and interests at the forefront.

Coaches: Take a moment to reflect

  • What comes to mind when you think of parents or parental involvement in youth sport?

How you answer this question will shape:

  • How you frame information you are given on parents in sport.

  • How you view interactions with parents of the young people you work with.

  • What assumptions you bring to situations that you are faced with.

Parents: Take a moment to reflect

From years of conversations in this area it is clear that coaches and sports clubs often want the parents to focus on the following 3 areas:

  1. Provider role,

  2. Role model

  3. Interpreter role.

Parents: What comes to mind when you think of your involvement in your child’s sport?

Provider role

  • On time

  • Fed

  • Payments made

  • Child has the equipment the child needs

  • Enable children to participate (participation first allows for a progression to competition further down the line).

Role model

  • As a parent are you involved in sport yourself?

  • How do you respond to winning / losing?

  • How do you support teammates? (think colleagues if you aren’t involved in sport)

If parents participate in sport the child is likely to pick up on how they respond to certain situations.

Interpreter role

  • How parents communicate and respond in different situations helps a child make sense of sporting experiences

  • Focus on growth and development

  • Providing comfort on the sideline

  • Encourage teamwork and leadership

Coaches: We need to remember that for each parent, child (and coach) relationship

  • It is an intricate social experience.

  • We cannot just transfer assumptions.

  • What is going on for that child - what is going on for that parent - how can we best support them?

  • Parents experiences - parenting children comes with huge ups and downs

Parents: You have lots to juggle…

  • Managing child’s emotions

  • Coping with sport demands

  • Balancing other aspects of life

  • Managing society expectations

  • Adapting and changing involvement

Take a moment: is it your child's sport that is the main or only challenge right now or is it a build up of lots of others things and this is the tip of the ice berg.

This content has been developed as part of our #itsmyjourney project with Valleys Gymnastics Academy.

Information adapted from Professor Camilla Knight and the CPSU keeping your child safe in sport week resources.


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