Organized Sports and Children: How to Support Your Child in Youth Sports

Organized Sports and Children Series

The first three parts of the “Organized Sports and Children” series looked at the benefits of organized sports as a type of exercise for kids, age guidelines for participation in organized sports, and how to choose the right youth sports program.

Part four will examine the role of parental involvement in organized sports and give specific advice on how parents can support their children during sports activities.

Parental Involvement in Youth Sports

Parental involvement in youth sports is extremely important. When it comes to organized sports and children, parents can serve as coach, facilitator and even sports psychologist at times. Fulfilling all of those roles means lending physical, financial, and emotional support to your child.

Studies have shown that positive parental involvement can help a young athlete find greater enjoyment in his or her sport, develop a healthy sense of self-esteem, and cope well with the outcome of a game—whether it’s been won or lost.

Alternatively, the same studies show that negative parental pressure caused young athletes to be unhappy with their participation in youth sports, have a negative or uncertain sense of self-esteem, and associate stress with playing sports.

These studies make it clear that children need the right kind of support from parents during their involvement in youth sports.

Positive Ways to Support Your Child in Youth Sports

The level of support children need from parents varies from child to child. Some children will need hyper-involved parents, while others want parents to back off entirely. What is most important is that your child perceives you are giving the right amount of support. According to researchers, the way your child perceives your involvement is more important than what you actually do.

Here are some positive ways you can support your child:

  • Attend your child’s games
  • Help your child practice at home
  • Allow your child to choose which youth sports he participates in
  • Verbally encourage your child and congratulate him on accomplishments
  • Help your child understand how to view failures as opportunities to get feedback and improve
  • Provide your child with the proper sports equipment

If you’re unsure of how your child perceives your involvement in her youth sports activity, ask her how she feels. Studies recommend that parents discuss their involvement with children. Find out what you do that your child really appreciates and also be sure to find out if there’s anything you do that makes the child feel stressed or embarrassed.

After you’ve had this discussion with your child, you can adjust your parental involvement to a level that will make the child feel comfortable.


Adolescence Journal – “The Role of Parental Involvement in Youth Sport Participation and Performance”