Parent Support of Female Athletes
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Parent Support of Female Athletes



Too many parents don't know how to support their child-athlete appropriately. University of Alberta PhD student, Camilla Knight talks about the types of parental support young athletes need to fully ...

Too many parents don't know how to support their child-athlete appropriately. University of Alberta PhD student, Camilla Knight talks about the types of parental support young athletes need to fully enjoy their experience as an athlete.



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  • Good afternoon, today I’m going to talk to you about how parents can best support female athletes in sport. While this presentation is going to focus mainly on one study I conducted with a group of female athletes it’s going to be supplemented with other research findings from studies I have conducted with parents, coaches, and other athletes over the last five year. Make the point about the
  • Over the last five years I have spoken to parents, coaches, and athletes from a number of different countries, of a number of different standards and ages, and although predominently involved in tennis I have occassionally spoken to athletes involved in different sports. Every time I speak about parents I am continually struck by how much they have to do to parent their child in sport. When I began to write this presentation I started as I always do by writing the argument for why it is important to understand the role of parents in sport. But then I reali

Parent Support of Female Athletes Parent Support of Female Athletes Presentation Transcript

  • Parent Support of Female Athletes
    Camilla Knight
  • Parents in sport
    “Water boy”
    “Shoulder-to-cry on”
  • “The trouble with learning to parent on the job is that your child is the teacher”
    (Robert Brault)
  • Examining parental involvement
    ‘Athletes’ preferences for parental behaviours in sport’
    Interviews with a range of adolescent female athletes
    What behaviours they liked and disliked from their parents (and why)
  • Before Competition
    Helping with physical and mental preparation
    “They’re [athletes] all ready, so they’re not worrying about anything and like help them to eat well so that they’re feeling good before their game… just make sure they’re prepared”
  • During Competition
    Encourage the entire team
    “She’s [mom] not just clapping for me, she’s clapping for the whole team. That’s what I like”
  • During Competition
    Focus on effort rather than outcome
    “They’re always supportive they don’t really care if we win or lose just that we try our best”
  • During Competition
    Interact positively with athletes throughout competition
    “[Parents should] keep on being positive, like don’t say anything negative like ‘cause you’re already under like a whole lot of pressure and just more negative, or [any] negativity would just like crack them”
  • During Competition
    Maintain control of emotions
    “Parents get really into it and like yell at each other and then there was like a fight between a couple of people… I’m just like, ew, you know, that was a bit weird, I don’t think that’s really mature”
  • During Competition
    Do not draw attention to yourself
    “Sometimes when my dad gets overexcited it makes me kind of feel embarrassed ‘cause my dad’s like ‘Yes that’s my daughter right there!’”
  • During competition
    Do not coach
    “That [coaching] can be bad ‘cause if it’s your dad you try to do what he tells you to do but your coach tells you something different and you don’t know what to do”
  • During Competition
    Do not argue with officials
    “I think like cheering and stuff’s OK and if you’re into it like you can like say, ‘That was a foul,’ but you have to like drop it there. You can’t, you shouldn’t be arguing with the ref.”
  • After competition
    Provide positive and realistic feedback
    “They [my parents] are not like telling you ‘you did great’ when you really were horrible…like they’re being supportive but not to the extent of lying to you.”
  • So what can coaches do?
    Recognize the importance of parental involvement in youth sport
    Identify your athletes’ preferences for parental involvement
    Educate parents regarding their involvement
    Encourage continual discussion between athletes and parents regarding their involvement
  • “Parents of children who make a serious commitment to sport face a difficult challenge: to raise a happy, healthy, and successful child. It is not a responsibility that can be taken lightly, and certainly not a simple one”(Rotella & Bunker, 1987)