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Ferris State Associate Athletic Director, Dr. Jon Coles interviewed collegiate student-athletes playing different sports and from different socioeconomic backgrounds about their youth sports experience. His goal was to find out the effect their parents had on their sports lives. Eight similar themes emerged in learning how to raise successful athletes.
No. 1 Those who thought they had the best youth experience had parents who didn’t play their sport.
The majority thought that if the parents know too much, they try to coach. In high school, they don’t want a parent who coaches. They want a parent who provides support and unconditional love. I had one female say, “I was much better off than my teammates because my parents had absolutely no clue about my sport.”
No. 2 Moms are better than dads in stressful sporting situations.
In recruiting showcases, high-level tournaments, generally speaking, the dads want to coach and prepare their kids. Moms want them to try their best. Moms were a much more calming influence on the subjects than dads.
No. 3 Parents should be less involved as the sport becomes more serious.
They wanted their parents involved at the basic youth level when the goal was fun and participation. However, as they get to the 8th-grade level and high school, when it’s becoming more serious, they don’t want as much “game talk” from parents.
No. 4: Parents and their kids should have more meaningful discussions about goals.
They wanted their parents to know what their goals were at each level and how the parents could support them. Each participant remembered one specific serious sit-down discussion in which they told their parents about their goal of playing in college.