Pushy parents putting children off playing sport

Almost half of children have been put off taking part in sport by the behaviour of parents on the touchline, according to a new report.

45 percent of the 1,002 children surveyed, all aged eight to 16, said that the bad behaviour of parents had made them feel like they didn’t want to take part in sport.

Four in 10 children (41%) reported being criticised by their parents after a game, with 16% admitting that this happened frequently or all the time.

The survey carried out on behalf of Chance to Shine and the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) found that children want their parents to watch them – two thirds (66%) are happy and half (51%) proud when they do - while 40% even claimed that parents watching them can improve their performance.

But many children reported negative experiences of parental involvement, with 41% witnessing parents abusing the coach or referee and 21% having seen parents abuse other children to benefit their own child.

Children also reported a range of personal criticism from parents, including being told that they are ‘too heavy’, 'not good enough', 'worthless' or that an error was a ‘pathetic mistake’.

Parents acknowledge that there is a problem. 84% of 1,002 parents surveyed agreed that negative parental behaviour is putting children off sport, while 58% believe that there has been an increase in parents shouting from the touchlines compared to their childhood.

Luke Swanson, Chief Executive of Chance to Shine said: “This research confirms the central role of parents in supporting their children to play and enjoy sport. At the same time it suggests that, all too often, we can curb their enthusiasm. This is a wake-up call to anyone who supports their children from the boundary, the touchline or the courtside."

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This article appeared in The Clubhouse - the monthly newsletter from Club Website. To get the best grassroots news, offers and competitions straight to your inbox every month, sign up today!

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