Posted 15/05/2020 in Category 1

What keeps children, parents and coaches happy and growing through sport?

What keeps children, parents and coaches happy and growing through sport?

Every parent harbours ideals about their child in sport. For some parents, it ranges from playing sports professionally to winning an Olympic gold. But for other parents, they wish for their child to enjoy sport and maintain a lifelong interest in caring for themselves physically, socially, emotionally and psychologically. When a child show promise in a sport, we see parents dream about what might be for their child: fame, fortune and a life few dream is possible. Yet for children to reach maturity in a chosen sport, they will need to remain in the game for quite some time and one person who commands an emphatic role in this journey is the coach.

The coach plays a significant role in the life of most athletes. This role might include therapist, teacher, mentor, psychologist, and so on. Sometimes these roles are not clearly understood or labelled or parents and coaches share different philosophical perspectives on the way a child should engage in sport. Frank Smoll and Ronald Smith have investigated the relationships among coaches, children and their parents since the 1970s. Their research has influenced coaching programmes across the world in several sports and their lessons are presented here for you. 

So which principles are worth following to ensure everyone wins in sport. 

Principle 1: Coaches and parents each play important roles in sport for the benefit of the child. Children grow up in sport and it is an opportunity to learn and grow personally, physically, psychologically and emotionally. Tip: Learn your role, know your boundaries and seek to improve your role.

Principle 2: When fun is at the heart of sport, everyone wins. Happy people succeed and each coach and parent has a chance to help each child to be happy and then to succeed. Tip: Help children to squeeze every drop of fun out of their sport. Children know how to do achieve fun on their own.

Principle 3: Every child can learn. Every parent and coach can learn to be patient in the learning process. Parents and coaches can model patience, effort, and strategy. Tip: Help each child to master their sport at their pace.

Principle 4: Parents and coaches can work together harmoniously. Their actions teach their children implicitly. Be the coach or parent you wish your child to see. Tip: Choose one behaviour you would be proud of others to see you display. 

Principle 5: Good relationships depend of listening and speaking respectfully. Children, like coaches and parents enjoy respectful, open conversations. Lectures and diktats that highlight weaknesses close the doors that lead to greatness. Tip: Try to listen three times as much as you speak in the presence of children you coach or parent. 


Smoll, F. L., Cumming, S. P., & Smith, R. E. (2011). Enhancing coach-parent relationships in youth sports: Increasing harmony and minimizing hassle. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching 6(1), 13-26

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