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How much is too much when it comes to youth sport?

How much is too much when it comes to youth sport?

How to coach with a Balance is Better philosophy

How to coach with a Balance is Better philosophy

Balance is Better Principles Poster

Balance is Better Principles Poster

Creating a positive parent culture

Creating a positive parent culture

Unpacking the Balance is Better principles

Unpacking the Balance is Better principles

Running good trials and selections

Running good trials and selections

Balanced Female Health

Balanced Female Health

From agitators to allies: How clubs and schools can get the best out of their sports parents?

In this webinar, we chat with international sport-parent expert, Professor Camilla Knight, about strategies and tactics that clubs and schools can use to create a positive parent culture in their organisation. 

Key topics covered in this webinar include: 

  • Increasing parent engagement – Tips and tricks for getting parents more involved. 
  • Challenging parents – Strategies for working with and addressing challenging parents. 
  • Fostering positive contribution from parents – How to establish an environment that primes parents to contribute positively to your school or club. 

Key Takeaways 


We need to be aware of the language we (as coaches and sport administrators) use to talk about sports parents. 

Often coaches and sports administrators are quick to label sports parents as difficult or challenging. Professor Knight has found in her research, that actually coaches and sports administrators mostly have had overwhelmingly positive interactions with the vast majority of sports parents. However, the few negative interactions tend to lead to ‘parents’ being all tarred with the same brush. As coaches and sport administrators, it’s worth checking ourselves here and making sure we think critically about the language we use about parents. Language informs thinking. Thinking informs culture and behaviour,  e.g. “ we start to perceive all parents as a potential issue or a potential challenge”. 

Some clear shifts here for clubs and schools include: 

  • Reframe “dealing with parents” or “managing parents” to “working with parents”. 
  • Consider whether signage and messaging aimed at parents come across as passive-aggressive (e.g. the “it’s not the World Cup” type messages). These types of messaging tend to fuel stereotypes as well. 

Recognise, celebrate and value parents 

Many parents spend an inordinate amount of time and resources supporting their children’s sporting endeavours (from taxi driver, to kit washer, to nutritionist). As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, and within the context of youth sport, parents are an integral part of the equation.  

When it comes to developing a positive parent culture, it’s worth pausing and thinking about how your organisation recognises the value that parents bring. Low-cost (time, energy, money)  ideas such as end-of-season emails; making thanks in prize-giving speeches, etc. are a good place to start. 

The parent’s experience is part of the child’s experience 

Young people’s enjoyment of sport can be undermined if their parents aren’t enjoying the experience. 

Consider, what actions you can take to support parents to better enjoy children’s sport. 

Conversely, consider if you are currently taking any actions that might unintentionally make parents’ experience worse. 

Strategies to consider here include: 

For coaches…. 

  • Can you involve parents in some of the coaching – consider setting up a drill, maybe it’s just the warm-up, where parents are involved as “helpers”. 
  • How can parents support learning at home – are there activities or skills that parents can help their children with at home? What information can you give parents to support this? 
  • Set (or get a parent to lead) a social activity for all the parents in the team, e.g. a bbq or beach day. 

For administrators….  

  • Think about the onboarding experience for new parents. Do you help them learn about your organisation’s / team’s values and philosophies? Do you provide them with key information and an overview of important processes? 
  • Consider reviewing policies in place that restrict parents’ access to observing/spectating training and competitions. 

Support parents to understand how their role might change alongside their child’s sporting journey 

As young people’s sporting experiences shift over time based on their age, stage and motivations, the role parents play in supporting young people often changes as well. For parents supporting aspirational athletes, this often means that need to acquire new knowledge, so that they can continue to effectively support their children.  

Strategies here to consider include: 

  • Workshops and webinars, to share important information and knowledge to parents (e.g. nutrition and rest, selection processes, coaching philosophy and approach.) 
  • Connecting parents with ‘more experienced parents’ 
  • Sharing regular guidance through email and social media channels 

Give parents a voice 

Establish opportunities for parents to feedback on their experience and provide input into how things might be improved. Some ways that this can be enabled include: 

  • Collecting feedback during workshops with parents (that are already planned) 
  • Debriefing/reviewing the season and getting feedback in person or via survey 
  • Creating a parent liaison role or equivalent in your organisation 
Useful resources: 

Image Source: Liderina for Canva

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