Parents in sport

Last updated: 01 May 2019
Promoting positive parental behaviour

Parents play a pivotal role in encouraging and supporting their child’s participation, success and fun when playing sport. 

Therefore, it’s essential that sports clubs communicate regularly with parents so that both coach and parent work towards the same goals. 

To raise awareness of this, every October we mark Parents in Sport Week, which focuses on the role of the sporting parent in helping young people reach their full potential. This year, we're also asking parents to sign up to the Sports Parents Promise in the months leading up to the week.

We have also created information pages for parents to highlight what parents can do to best support their child in sport.

Role of sports organisations

These pages with help sports organisations to raise awareness with their coaches of the crucial role a parent has in helping a child reach their full potential.

We've also produced a number of resources for clubs to use when providing messages to parents, as well as to their own coaches.

Further resources

Related documents

Why parents are great for sport

Parents are great for sport

Everyone involved in sport for young people should be committed to ensuring that children's participation is supported.

Why parents are important

Parents play an important role in sport and positive parental behaviour has some great benefits for sports clubs. 

Positive parent behaviour can include:

  • being a positive role model for children
  • encouraging their child to take up, enjoy and achieve in their sport
  • encouraging their child to participate in sports activities for longer
  • supporting their child in practical ways - such as, providing transport or buying kit
  • getting involved by become coaches, helpers and volunteers within the club
  • helping out with other aspects for the sports club - such as, websites, promotion or fundraising
  • supporting and motivating their child and the wider team
  • reinforcing positive aspects of sports participation

Helping children reach their full potential

To continue to ensure a child reaches their full potential and enjoys their time playing sport, parents need to consider:

  • what do they want their child to get out of sport? Is it the same as what their child wants?
  • do they understand what their child is trying to achieve and what support they need to achieve this?
  • are they being the best role model they can be to help their child enjoy their sporting experience?
  • are they focused on their child's development and enjoyment?

One young person said:

“My dad’s the best role model I could ask for. He was always on the touchline giving me great support and always encouraging me on – really good, really positive. He’s just an inspiration for me.”

Related documents

What sports clubs can do

What sports clubs can do

Here, we list actions that sports organisations and clubs can use to encourage parents to support their children positively. 

Encourage positive sports parents

Parents play a pivotal role in sport. There are a number of ways that clubs and coaches can encourage their involvement in a way that benefits their child, as well as the rest of the team. 

To get parents on board, you can:

  • provide information about the club’s ethos, rules and expectations 
  • let parents know who to contact for information, feedback and offers of support
  • communicate clear expectations of parents (including online behaviour), which they are required to sign up to – for example, a parents’ code of conduct
  • inform parents about the expectations of coaches and participants
  • develop relationships with parents to encourage their positive involvement and make use of their skills to support the club
  • inform parents about processes to raise, discuss or report concerns or issues about which they're unhappy
  • use a range of means to inform parents and young people about expected standards of behaviour, including induction information, meetings, leaflets, posters and newsletters
  • provide reminders to parents that they are role models for their child and other children within the club
  • communicate the message that sport is fun

Manage challenging parental behaviour

On the rare occasions you may face situations where you need to deal more directly with problematic parental behaviour. 

In order to prevent poor behaviour that may arise in your club:

  • promote the club's code of conduct for parents, so they know what behaviour is expected of them and the consequences of breaching this – and get this signed
  • establish a well-publicised process to investigate and respond to concerns or complaints 
  • promote values such as respect and listening to each other throughout the club
  • educate parents on what positive behaviour looks like
  • encourage positive parental involvement as opposed to criticism
  • model positive behaviour by coaches and officials within the club, such as encouraging fair play
  • provide information for children and parents about who they can talk to if they have concerns 
  • have a designated safeguarding person other than the coach or referee
  • provide support for the officials through assistants – this is particularly important in the case of young officials
  • take advantage of support from the sport’s governing body

When prevention doesn't work

Sanctions should be identified and agreed by the management committee, and communicated to all parties. If poor behaviour persists, sanctions may include:

  • monitoring behaviour by a club official, or welfare or safeguarding officer
  • mediation between parents and staff with the involvement of the club welfare officer
  • not allowing an individual to be court, pool or pitch-side during a match or matches
  • barring an individual from attending at all – preferably by making alternative arrangements for their child to get to and from the club or venue

Every effort should be made to ensure that the behaviour of a parent does not result in either parent or their child being unable to participate, although in some extreme cases this may be the final resort.

Related documents

Resources

For help in encouraging the positive involvement of parents and other spectators, youth sports clubs and organisations may wish to take a look at the following resources.

If you're a parent, find out what you can do to support your child on our information for parents pages.

CPSU resources

CPSU videos and recordings

Other resources

Publications

Related documents