Being an Athlete Parent

The positive effects of sports on physical health as well as mental health are known. Sports improve self-esteem, self-perception and mental toughness. In addition, the participation of young people in sports supports their ability to be assertive, be a leader, academic success and determination towards the goal.

Parents play an important role in supporting adolescents’ sports careers functionally and emotionally. Recent research has focused on examining the contribution of parents to the training of talented athletes. The rewarding and understanding attitude of parents plays an important role in the participation of young people in sports, especially in the enjoyment they get from sports. Parental support is effective in young people’s participation and continuation of sports clubs.

Parent’s participation in youth’s sports life includes supportive and suppressive behaviors of parents. parental support; parental pressure; includes negative attitudes, indifference and excessive criticism (Dorch, Smith & Dotterer, 2016). Some parents hold unrealistic expectations for young athletes and invest too much, linking their values ​​to their children’s success in sports. Research in this area reveals the value of parents in the development of young athletes.

The support of the parent to the athlete can be in three ways; being a resource provider, interpreter and role model. As a resource provider, the parent provides the necessary equipment and transportation for the youth to participate in sports. Dunn et al. (2016) found that athletes who grow up in families that invest a large part of the family economy in sports feel more parental pressure and enjoy sports less. Parents can pressure children to work hard so that the money they spend is not wasted. These negative attitudes reduce the child’s desire to continue sports.

As an interpreter, the views and expectations of the parents are related to the stress and anxiety experienced by the young person. Parents’ verbal reactions include supportive, rewarding or suppressing, critical and controlling comments. Parents’ positive attitudes towards losing or low performance determine the youth’s enjoyment of sports.

As a role model, parents can guide young people in terms of developing their sports skills, participating in challenging exercises, and communicating with people such as coaches and teammates during the sports process (Lauer, Gould, Roman & Pierce, 2010). Many studies show that the enjoyment, performance and self-confidence of young people in sports are related to the positive support of their parents. On the contrary, the negative and critical attitude, pressure, overemphasis of winning and controlling behaviors of the parents reduce the motivation and performance of the youth in participating in sports.

In a study conducted with Dutch adolescents, the relationship between sports participation, parent-related factors and socio-cultural variables was examined. It has been observed that participation in sports is higher in boys than in girls. On the other hand, it is known that male athletes experience more pressure from their parents than female athletes. Adolescents who state that their parents are physically active participate in sports twice as much as those whose parents are not physically active (Toftegaard-Stockel, Nielsen, Ibsen & Andersen, 2011). These results emphasize the importance of the parent being a role model for the athlete.

Knight and Holt (2014) found in their study that parents and children’s sports-related goals are related to the parent’s suppressive or supportive attitude. However, the time of the parent’s behavior; before the competition, during the competition and after the competition) can differ in terms of the supportive and suppressive attitudes perceived by the children. Athlete youth want honest and balanced feedback from their parents after the competition, while not focusing on negative comments and criticism.

In South Korea, the participation of middle and high school students in sports is highly encouraged in order to develop elite athletes. On the other hand, young athletes are faced with various psychological stressors that will affect their sports performance. Park (2015) emphasized the role of self-confidence both during the preparation and during the competition. In the study conducted with Korean adolescents participating in sports, a significant positive relationship was found between parental support, parental attachment and self-confidence. It has been observed that young athletes who establish a secure attachment with their parents and perceive more parental support have higher self-confidence (Park, 2015). The role of the parent not only supports the athlete, but also contributes to the increase of the athlete’s self-confidence.

Another study was conducted with 81,857 school-age children aged 9-17 within the scope of Youth Research in China project and the relationship between parental support for physical activity and children’s participation in sports was examined. Various questions were prepared to measure the support of the parents to the child. For example; ‘Do you encourage your child to participate in physical activities?’, ‘Do you accompany or stand by your child when he/she participates in physical activities?’, ‘Do you make financial investments for your child’s participation in sports?’, ‘Can you share your information about the health benefits of sports with your child? ‘, ‘Do you model your child to do sports?’. As a result of the study, various support mechanisms of their parents; It has been found that children who have encouraging, accompanying, financial support, following, watching and participating participate more in sports (Liu et al., 2017).

As a result, the support of the parents is important for the child’s enjoyment and success in sports. Positive behavior of parents; Parents’ focus on the general development of their child, motivational and constructive evaluations of training, less demands on the child, reading and understanding the child’s situation well help to support their development in sports.

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