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Parents' Guide: Putting YOUTH Back Into Sports (page 3)

— Government of Erie County, New York
Updated on Dec 16, 2008

What type of sports parent will you be?

Level of Involvement                      Type of Parent
Under-involved                               Disinterested/misinformed parent
Moderately involved                        The comfort zone
Overly-involved                              Excitable/fanatical parent

Disinterested parents spend more time arranging a car-pool to take their children to the game than they do at the actual game if they attend at all.

The misinformed parents care about their children’s sport choices, but they feel their appearance at a game or practice will be stressful for the youth.

The opposite of under-involved, disinterested or misinformed parents are the excitable and fanatical parents. The excitable parents want to be supportive of their children, coach, and the game, but at times may “lose control” and exhibit offensive behavior. Excitable parents may not be aware of their behavior.

Fanatical parents want their child to be a sports hero or heroine. The fanatical parent will harp on the coach, officials, and their child in an attempt to have their needs met. The child who has a fanatical parent may experience pre-game stress, competitive stress and/or feelings of inadequacy. Eventually the child may grow despondent and refuse to play.

Parents in the comfort zone contribute to the child’s sports experience in a positive and supportive way and know when to back off. The moderate parent models having fun, encourages effort and improvements, and applauds all participants.

The preferred level of parental involvement is different for each child. To identify your child’s comfort zone, ask the following questions:

  • How involved do you want us to be?
  • How do you want us to be involved, (i.e. sit on sidelines, coach, carpool, etc.)?
  • Is it okay of us to cheer on the sidelines?
  • What makes you feel pressured?

Take the time to have a discussion with your child to better understand their reason for being involved in sports and how you can be a supportive parent.

The National Recreation and Park Association is privileged to collaborate with Dr. Daniel F. Perkins, associate professor of family and youth resiliency and policy, Pennsylvania State University and Ann Michelle Daniels, assistant professor of family and youth development, South Dakota State University to feature Putting YOUTH Back Into Sports as part of the Sports Illustrated GOOD SPORTS™ Activation Kit.

These materials have been adapted from a training curriculum created for Extension educators and sports organizations. Putting YOUTH Back Into Sports is published by South Dakota State University in partnership with The Pennsylvania State University.

The full training curriculum contains additional activities, hand-outs and other educational materials. It is available for sale from South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service by calling (605) 688-4792 or by going to: http://sdces.sdstate.edu/youthinsports/index.html presented by In Partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association.

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