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The role of parents and coaches in sport

16 April 2018

Team Girls is dedicated to fostering and promoting girls’ participation in sport. It’s about girls supporting girls, building up their confidence, and knowing they’re stronger when they stand together – on and off the court.

Parents have a pretty major influence on whether their child gets involved in sport, whether it's for fun, fitness or to educate around teamwork and competition. After all, they’re the ones who pay for everything and ferry their kids to and from practice.

Generally, children who have a warm and secure relationship with their parents or carers are more likely to have positive self-concepts and high self-esteem, traits that are handy both for playing sports and for navigating through life.

With girls, taking up a sport has a lot to do with having supportive parents or carers who encourage their child without placing too much pressure on them to succeed. Push too hard, and a girl will push back, and probably want to pull out altogether.

Girls - in fact, children as a whole - who receive positive interactions, support and encouragement from parents without undue pressure tend to enjoy their sport more, show more preference for challenges and are more motivated.

Sports coaches play a huge part in our children's lives

Other grown-ups besides parents can have a big influence, too.

Coaches play an important role in young girls' mental and emotional wellbeing, because they're often at the centre of the sports activity. Behind the scenes or on game day, they provide support, act as a role model, and can shape the nature of the whole sports experience.

So, as a parent introducing a child to sport, it could pay to learn a little about the coach first. Here are a few things to look out for.

  • Coaches who provide specific, corrective feedback rather than just criticism.
  • Coaches who give praise and encouragement based on effort rather than outcomes. This means, at the end of a game where your daughters team loses there are still lots of positive reflections too.
  • Coaches who don't allow 'unsportsmanlike' behaviour.
  • Coaches who know how to have fun. This might sound a little weird, but can the coach laugh rather than yell when somebody scores an own-goal? Do players come off smiling and laughing or worried that they'll be in trouble for a mistake?
  • Coaches who inspire the players to improve and care about the game.
  • Coaches that care about every player, not just the 'superstars'. Does the coach treat everybody equally or do some get more one-on-one feedback and support than others?

"A good coach can have a positive impact on a child’s psychological growth."

Whether on the sports field or in the game of life, who you share the experience with, and how they go about it, can have a significant influence on the final result.

Reach out logo

ReachOut is Australia's leading online health website for young people and their parents. Working with registered counsellors, psychologists and mental health professionals ReachOut provides online self-help tools that are used by over 1.5 million Australians each year. A valuable resource for many parents, teens and young adults.

If your child, or anyone you know is having issues with self-esteem, confidence or mental or physical health, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

This content includes the views and opinions of a third-party, and does not necessarily reflect the views of Suncorp. Information is intended to be of a general nature only and any advice has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, personal situation or needs.

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