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.”

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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Dan Pope
Writer at Teamer
Freelance writer, editor and copywriter, with a passion for grassroots sport. A right back turned football writer, Dan is the former editor of Club Website and has been lucky enough to work in the field of grassroots and community sport for the last 10 years.

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  1. Mr, John Adams on April 24, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    This issue in not only being as old as the hills, will always continue till the end of time itself. The very people that report, mention, complain of the constant harassment of the kids, are at times themselves also to blame for this curse given to football. We are ALL guilty of a well intentioned support to the kids football. Experts every one. Even the guy/gal that is right and exact in his/her vocal support and appreciation of what the kids are trying to achieve, is verbally abused by those daring to assume they have the required knowledge, expertise and right to shout at the kids. Their shouting not harmful to the game played in front of them. We are at times ALL guilty, yet ALL well intended. And ALL espousing. “As Long As They Enjoy It!” You gotta laugh, ain’t ya?

  2. Mr, John Adams on April 27, 2015 at 11:32 am

    Silent football’s no good!

  3. Mr, John Adams on April 27, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Silent football isn’t good. In an attempt to remove/erradicate shouting at kids games, there is now in place a sinister silence. A silence that as stupid as it sounds, can still be heard. But worse than this, it can and is felt. It is felt and, it does little if anything to the enjoyment of the game. Football, so I have read by far greater football know all’s, than myself, have stiffening readily, freely and rightly “Football Is An immobile Game” All I say is “Long May It Remain So” This because like ALL of us well intentioned but mis guided mortals “WE LUV IT”

  4. C R Boden on May 4, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    There is no need for total silence to replace abuse. Occasional applause, shouting well done,nice try or unlucky can replace abuse quite easily. Having coached junior football and with sons and grandsons all into football I have seen at first hand how others negative comments de- motivate children.

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