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J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2003 Jun;43(2):250-5.

Parental influence on sport participation in elite young athletes.

Author information

1
College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.

Abstract

AIM:

To ascertain how talented young British swimmers, gymnasts, tennis and soccer players are introduced to their sport, and to identify how they are encouraged into intensive systematic training.

METHODS:

Two hundred and eighty-two elite young athletes (aged 8 to 17 yrs) and their parents were interviewed in their homes to identify how and why they started intensive training.

RESULTS:

Of the 4 sports studied (soccer, gymnastics, tennis, and swimming), parents of swimmers were more likely introduce their children to the sport (70%), while parents of gymnasts (42%) were the least likely to do so. However, in this sports parents played a lesser role in the transition to intensive training (6% and 5%, respectively). Nearly half the soccer players (47%) became involved in the sport because of their own interest, with the majority making the transition to intensive training because of encouragement by a coach (65%). Self-motivation (27%) and parental influence (57%) brought children into tennis with 25% of the young athletes in the sample autonomously deciding to start intensive training. Children from the lower socio-economic classes were underrepresented, and the total number of 1-parent families (5.3%) was considerably less than current British national norms (16.1%).

CONCLUSION:

In Britain, young athletes' involvement in high level sport is heavily dependent on their parents, with sports clubs and coaches playing an important later role. In the present socio-economic and cultural situation, many talented youngsters with less motivated parents will not undertake sport. Talented youngsters from a poorer economic background will be heavily disadvantaged, especially in sports such as tennis.

PMID:
12853909
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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