Involving parents and carers in sport

Last updated: 15 Sept 2023
Promoting positive parental behaviour

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

Therefore, its essential that sports and activity providers communicate regularly with parents so that everyone works towards the same goals.

Raising awareness of positive parental involvement

Our Keeping your child safe in sport campaign aims to raise awareness on the role of the sporting parent in helping young people reach their full potential. The campaign runs year-round, with a focused awareness week the first week of October. This week brings together parents, carers, sports clubs and organisations, and NSPCC ambassadors to help parents and carers keep children safe in sport.

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

The role of sports organisations

Everyone involved in sport should be committed to ensuring that children's participation is supported. These pages should support sports clubs and activity providers to raise awareness with their coaches, staff and volunteers of the crucial role a parent or carer has in helping a child reach their full potential.

We've also produced a number of resources for you to use when providing messages to parents and carers, as well as to staff and volunteers.

Related documents

Why parents are great for sport

The role of parents in youth sport

The role that parents and carers play in their child’s sporting life is vital in helping them to thrive and to achieve their full sporting potential, whilst feeling safe and supported.

"when they encourage me it makes me feel happy and excited" - young athlete (from the filming of My No. 1 fan video)

Why parents and carers are important

Parents and carers offer both emotional and practical support to their child, and it is key that they feel equipped to support their child's sporting journey. Parents can support their children by offering:

  • motivation - positive parental behaviour is great way to support and motivate children and the wider team
  • reinforcement - highlight positive aspects of sports participation such as, being healthy, building confidence and self-esteem, making friends, socialising, and ensuring the children are happy
  • encouragement – help their child reach their full potential and enjoy themselves

Watch our video My No. 1 Fan which highlights the impact that positive parental involvement can have on a child's enjoyment of sport. 

Helping children to achieve their full potential

To continue to ensure a child reaches their full potential and enjoys their time playing sport, parents and carers 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?

We have developed some new factsheets for sports organisations and activity providers offering useful guidance, tools and strategies to get parents involved in your club and build relationships:

Related documents

What sports clubs can do

What you can do to encourage positive sports parents

Your relationship with parents and carers is so important and rewarding. There are a number of ways you can encourage their involvement in a way that benefits their child, as well as your club or activity.

To get parents and carers on board, you can:

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

Take a look at our poster for top tips on getting parents involved in your sport. You can also print this poster and display it in your club house or sporting venue to share these messages.

How to address challenging parental behaviour

On the rare occasions you may face situations where you need to deal more directly with problematic parental behaviour, we’ve developed some pointers to help your club or activity to address and manage this.

  • promote values such as respect and listening to each other throughout the 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 ensure parents and carers agree to these
  • educate parents on what positive behaviour looks like
  • encourage positive parental involvement as opposed to criticism
  • establish a well-publicised process to investigate and respond to concerns or complaints
  • 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 National Governing Body or Active Partnership

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 if their behaviour or actions are inappropriate and disruptive
  • 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


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