Throughout 2019 we have carried out lots of research through discussions and questionnaires to help gain a better understanding of how parents feel during the sporting experience of their children. These questions were asked to both grassroots parents and performance pathway parents of children aged between 7-16.
One of the tools that we used during our workshops was an opportunity for parents to discuss freely with each other the best and worst bits of their sporting experience. Giving parents the space to discuss and reflect with each other is invaluable as it allows parents the opportunity to share experiences and more often than not realise that there are other people in exactly the same boat as them.
This is something that has perhaps been neglected in the past as we give parents the information that we want them to hear as sporting organisations and coaches without maybe giving them the voice or opportunity to speak to see how it may look from their perspective.
If we want organisations, coaches and parents to work successfully together then we need to have as much information as possible from all possible angles.
What has also become apparent during the research is there are subtle differences between the views of mums and dads and how they perceive the sporting experience of their young people.
To gather this information we have made the parents ‘Kings and Queen’s for the Day’ and asked them three key questions to discuss and then answer:
- List your favourite things about being a sports parent?
- List your most challenging things about being a sports parent?
- If you were ‘King or Queen for the day’ – what is the one thing you would change?
The responses have provided valuable feedback and have allowed us to help shape future workshops to help support parents.
It has also allowed us to work closely with organisations to help make fundamental changes to their structure and communication, thus enabling more positive relationships between all parties.
Here are some of the most popular responses(not all) that we have received:
Favourite Things about being a Sports Parent
Watching them play
Socialising with other parents
Seeing their child do well and develop their character
Seeing their child happy
Having a shared experience with their child
Most Challenging Things about being a Sports Parent
Poor communication from coaches and organisations
Cost of kit, petrol, sport etc
Impact on wider family /social life
Not being too critical
Picking up the pieces when things have gone wrong
Seeing their child injured
Negative talk from other parents
‘King or Queen for the day – what is the one thing that you would change?
More Free Play
Equal opportunities for all children
More local matches and less time in the car
Better coach communication about the sessions
More support and communication for parents
Not feeling under pressure to play all year round
Greater respect for officials
Less pressure at younger ages
This is what parents are saying and the challenge is how we can use this information to help support and shape sporting programmes.
Parents remain the most influential people in a young persons life and despite some finding it really difficult on occasions they continue to provide huge amounts of support both physically and emotionally.
We are thrilled that we have been able to support parents and give them more of a voice in 2019, help organisations and coaches in their approach to parental engagement and we are already looking forward to a number of exciting projects in 2020!
Happy New Year to you all!