Swansea researcher joins NSPCC to promote parents’ role in youth sport

A Swansea University researcher has joined forces with the NSPCC and more than 100 sports organisations in the UK and Ireland to promote Parents in Sport Week from 3 to 9 October.

Parents and carers are key to a child’s lifelong involvement in youth sport. The aim of the week is to get all sports organisations and clubs to rally behind efforts to underscore the positive, supporting role that parents play.

Dr Camilla Knight of Swansea University sports science department, who studies parental involvement in sport, said:

“Without the support of their parents and carers, the opportunities for children to engage in sport and reach their full potential will be limited.”

Describing the problem of ‘over-involved’ or ‘pushy’ parents, Dr Knight added:

“Unfortunately, this is leading to some coaches and organisations limiting their involvement with and support of parents, which subsequently affects children’s experiences.”

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To mark Parents in Sport Week, Dr Knight is hosting:

  • a workshop for Swansea Aquatics on 2nd October at the National Swimming Pool
  • a workshop for coaches and organisations at Swansea University on 3rd October (open to all – tickets available here):
  • a workshop at the Child Protection in Sport Conference in Wembley on the 5th October,
  • a webinar for the Child Protection in Sport on the 7th October – registration here:

Anne Tiivas, Director of the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU), said:

“From Olympic athletes to grassroots players there is consistent agreement that parents are most important in initiating involvement in sport and supporting long-term positive engagement. 

However, certain types of involvement and behaviours from parents and carers can be challenging, and take away from a child’s experience and enjoyment. As parents commit a lot of time, money and emotional support to their children’s participation in sport, sometimes in an emotionally charged environment they may get carried away, for example on the side-lines poolside or courtside.

Negative parental behaviour such as arguing with officials and referees or putting too much pressure on the child takes away from their experience of sport. This can also stunt a child’s desire to continue in sport and damage their perception of sport as fun.

Parents in Sport Week aims to:

  • encourage sports organisations to promote the positive role parents play in helping children reach their full potential
  • empower parents by helping them to support their child’s participation in sport
  • assist coaches and officials to understand the crucial role parents have in a child’s involvement in sport

Further information:

The NSPCC has produced resources for clubs to use with parents and their own coaches. These are available at thecpsu.org.uk/parents.