In an upcoming podcast The Roles of Parents in Sport with Richard Shorter (The Non-Perfect Dad), there is a conversation where we discuss how important of a role it is. In our discussion, Richard goes on to make a point that acknowledging sport for parents can be emotional, supporting this is an important step for any club, coach or organisation. Ultimately, all parents want their children to do well and achieve. As a result, the emotions of being a parent can effect individuals differently and how they interact with their child, coach or club. Therefore, to support parents we are going to explore some DO’s and DONT’s of parents of children participating in sport. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, however, these tips for parents will help them to understand how they can best support their child.

A study by McCarthy, Jones and Clark-Carter (2008) investigated the sources of enjoyment reported by youth sport participants and found that positive parental involvement was one of the most frequently reported results by young males and females. Therefore, it is clear that participants in sport perceive that parental involvement is a positive one and will support their enjoyment in sport. All parents want their child to be happy, healthy and successful. The role of sport is a pivotal one for children to be able to achieve this and studies have found children that enjoy playing sport are more likely to have a positive lifelong relationship with sport.

With this in mind, here are some DOs and DONTs:


– Understand what club, team or organisation your child is joining. What are the clubs values and beliefs? What kind of environment or team is your are they joining? This is an important step and should be the first point of call for any parent to fully understand what your child will get from joining. Failure in doing this can lead onto both parents and/or the club delivering conflicting messages to the child.

– Be consistent with your child throughout the journey. Understanding FAILURE is part of the journey is vital. If your child has been made a substitute or they’ve not been selected, rather than calling the coach to ask why… have a discussion with your child and talk to them about what they can do to be selected again or ensure they give themselves a best chance of starting. Again, depending on how much research you’ve done with your club the easier it will be to share why some decisions may be made by the coach to help your child understand.

– Be a role model by promoting a healthy and active lifestyle yourself. Engaging in helping your child to make good choices and educating them on healthy living will help support them in building a positive relationship with food and exercise.

– Encourage and celebrate your child’s success from the side lines in a positive way. As a parent, there’s nothing wrong with applauding your child’s work rate and achievement throughout their sessions and games. This doesn’t always have to be verbally even just a thumbs up or a smile can be equally if not more powerful.


– Remember your responsibility as a parent to promote the types of behaviours you want from your child. touchline coaching, angry conversations on the journey home and venting your frustrations with the coach will all have an impact on your child’s enjoying of playing in sport.

– Put pressure on your child to perform. Remember, your child is playing sport to have fun. Children’s performances will be inconsistent and if you go into that knowing and expecting that they will have some good games and some bad ones it will allow you to be consistent with your messages when talking with them.

– Don’t allow the red mist to take over. As we’ve acknowledged, watching your child take part in sport can be emotional. The key is not letting the emotions take over. Be sure to keep your car journeys home a positive and one and don’t vent your frustrations out on them about their performances.

– Live your dreams through your child. Don’t get them to join a sport to achieve success where you may have failed yourself, well at least that being the sole reason. Each individuals journey to sporting success will be different and success may not be playing at high level, it may be just a passion and enthusiasm to play it.

Parents play a major part in children’s sporting life’s. The journey is a long and bumpy one. Remember that.

Richard Shorter, says: “Being a sport’s parent is a wonderful, but at times challenging role. The dos and dont’s Ross outlines here are a great starting point for parents to reflect on how to support their children in getting better outcomes. No parent is ever the perfect sports parent, just like our children and their sport, we need to work at training our parenting. As you read this blog ask yourself how would you score yourself on this do or don’t and what could you do take steps to improve. Not because you are a bad parent, but because we when we work on our parenting, we give our children better changes of success.” Richard works with Premiership football clubs and you can find out more about his work here: