A critical analysis of parental influence upon children s sports participation and performance

Topics: Parent, Childhood, Child Pages: 6 (2606 words) Published: August 9, 2015


HND Sports Science
Sports Psychology ΙΙ
(Social Psychology)

Assessment 1

Staff : Mark Bowler

Student : Derek Elmhirst

Task:

Choose a topic in the broad area of ‘Introduction to Sports Psychology’ and write your own specific question. You must critically analyse your chosen subject area, showing knowledge and understanding, and application of the subject to practical situations. Specific references to existing work should be included.

Topic:

A critical analysis of parental influence upon children’s sports participation and performance. A critical analysis of parental influence upon children’s sports participation and performance.

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Children’s behaviour is often unpredictable. Behaviour and attitudes of children in a sporting environment are no exception. Some children entering adolescence with great sporting ability and a good winning record seem to scowl their way through matches and get upset at slight setbacks. They may react to their regular victories with an expectant air, and to their irregular defeats with a petulant lack of grace. Other less fortunate adolescents who regularly suffer defeat, primarily due to a lack of natural ability, frequently do so with a smile on their faces, and a level of enthusiasm surpassing their victors.

Obviously winning is not the ‘be all and end all’ for these children. Indeed many surveys over recent years including Ryckman & Hamel, 1993; and Stern et al, 1990; both cited in Jambor (1999) have come to a similar conclusion. The most important reason children participate in sport is to have fun. Competition is cited as important by many children and hence sport gives an outlet for the development of a competitive nature that is inherent in most people, but when children start to play sport and games they do so primarily for fun. Youngsters won’t voluntarily do anything they don’t enjoy.

In the above examples the bad natured winning child presumably gathered enjoyment from sport at first, but despite material success this enjoyment has diminished, whereas their less successful counterparts have more fun merely by taking part. Why has this occurred? The answer lies largely in the socialisation of the child. Kurt Lewin (1935) proposed that an individuals behaviour is a function of their personality and the environment they are placed in. There are many factors that influence a child’s developing personality and an equally large number that can influence their environment. In the lives of the vast majority of young children there is one permanent and thus over-riding factor however, their parents. Woolger and Power (1993) state that “parents play a major role in how their children come to view the world and respond to a wide range of situations and activities.” A study by Snyder and Spreitzer (1973) cited by Woolger and Power focused on the influence of parents in a sporting context and drew the conclusion that “adult athletes attribute many of their attitudes and behaviours in sport to the behaviour of their parents”.

Richardson (2000) identifies several significant others who can influence the sport playing child; coach, teacher, team-mates, friends, peers and parents; and the personality traits which may be affected, namely beliefs, emotions, attitudes and dedication. In general these significant others may come and go during childhood. Parents however remain throughout and therefore may be seen as the primary influence on the child’s psychological core, their attitude towards sport, and their dedication to that sport.

Media coverage of high level sport contains many examples of parental influence on their offspring. The current elite of women’s tennis provides some fascinating case studies. At the very top are the Williams sisters, whose demographic background suggests that they probably would not have even...

References: Jambor, E. (1999) Parents as children’s socialising agents in youth soccer. Journal of Sport Behaviour. 22 (3), p350.
Jones, D. (2003) Give a Dog a Bad Name. The Observer Sport Monthly. 35 January 2003 p14.
McKay, P. (2003) How Parents Can Ruin Kids Sport.
Richardson, D. (2000) The Influence of ‘Significant Others’ in the Development of Talented Young Football Players. Insight. 3 (4), 28 - 29.
Woolger, C. & Power, T. (1993) Parent and Sport Socialisation: Views from the Achievement Literature. Journal of Sport Behaviour. 16 (3), p171.
Hoyle, R. & Leff, S. (1997) The role of parental involvement in youth sport participation and performance. Adolescence. 32 (125), p233.
Kamin Hirschhorn, D. & Olisky Loughead, T. (2000) Parental Impact on Youth Participation in Sport – The Physical Educator’s Role. The Journal of Physical education, Recreation & Dance. 71 (9), p26.
Stephen, A. (2000) How Lacrosse became a Blood Sport (Parents and Competition). New Statesman. 129 (4504), p16.
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