Do Parents Push Their Kids Too Far in Sports?

by omill2 on March 24, 2014 - 1:00pm

Playing a sport as a child is a fun experience to meet new friends, develop social skills and learn more about a sport that interests you. Parents love to be a part of their child’s life, whether it is education, sports or friends, especially when they are young, but some parents take their child’s sport too far and get involved too much. Youth Sport Parenting Styles and Practices is a research article about how parenting styles influence a child experience while playing a sport. In this article by N. Holt and his colleagues describes the different parenting styles and how each style affects their child in a sport (2009). There are supportive parents and parents who are overly involved in their child’s sport and have very high expectations (Holt, 2009). The theory that N. Holt and his colleagues came up with while conducting this research, was that children reported high levels of athlete success and motivation when they received positive feedback from their parents (2009). Holt describes in the article that there are mainly two types of parenting, Responsiveness and Demandingness (2009). Responsiveness is parents who are supportive and respond to their child’s needs. Demandingness refers to parents who are controlling, supervise their children carefully and expect orders to be obeyed without having to explain them (Holt, 2009). The method used in this research was observation and conducted interviews over one summer soccer season. There were thirty couples and two non-divorced remarried couples, all with female children and the result of this experiment was that thirty-two parents had supportive parenting styles (Holt, 2009). They were involved in their child’s lives but were not controlling. During an interview, one of the fathers explained that he tried to leave decisions up to them, rather than forcing what they can and can’t do (Holt, 2009).
The main purpose of this research article is to show how different parenting styles can influence the experience a child has playing a sport. From my own experience, if parents put too much pressure on their kid to play exceptionally well, they won’t enjoy it as much. The child will be too busy trying to impress their parents and to be good enough for them, they will not be able to have fun and that is what playing a sport at a young age all is about. This research article proves that children will be more successful, confident and have more motivation to play, if their parents are supportive and give them positive comments. Some parents out there are too controlling and don’t realize that they have a young child playing the sport, not an adult or even teenager training to be a professional or trying to play in college. I think it is great when parents get involved in their child’s sports, it means they care, but sometimes parents can push it too far ruining it for their child.

Holt, N., Tamminen, K., Black, D., Mandigo, J., Fox, K. (2009). Youth sport parenting styles and practices. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 31(1), 37-59


This is such an interesting topic. Athletic competition has become such a focus in society in the past couple decades. I personally get very excited when a special airs on tv, telling the life story of the legendary “whoever.” I want to know how they got where they did, how they became as great as they did. The big question for me is were these world class athletes born with some inevitable drive into sports, or would they probably be sitting behind a desk if it were not for their parents?
The question you proposed asks if parents are pushing their kids too hard. For the most part I believe the answer to that question to be “yes.” Most kids that play sports do so because it is fun at the lower level and they meet new kids, and so on. An overwhelming effort by a young athlete to please their parents can result in mixed feelings about the competition. Having said this, I also believe every athlete, just as every person, is different. I believe that there are almost as many kids out there that wish they were pushed harder as those who have had enough. I personally had a career where my own motivation was the driving force for my success. I had the support but not quite the push. My two cents do not change the fact that some parents are pushing their kids too hard. They need to learn to communicate with their child and try to read them to figure out if pushing them is what they really want.
I have first hand knowledge of the pressures that parents hand out to their kids. When I wrestled, about 75% of the players parents were constantly getting involved almost to the point where they would get right out there on the mat to whisper in their kids ear during a match. Some driving them to suck weight even. One of my friend’s dad was no longer aloud to attend the matches due to the pressure he put on his son and the yelling, coaching, nastiness etc. This resulted in a great athlete losing interest.

I was drawn to your post because I was a three sport athlete all throughout my High School career and my parents served as my main source of support. Luckily, my parents took on the responsiveness approach that you discussed. They always came to my games, cheered me on, and supported me whether I performed good or bad. With their help I was able to enjoy sports instead of feeling pressured. However, through playing three sports and being on many different teams I was exposed to parents who fell under the demanding category. Parents like these often push their children too far leading to anxiety, fear, and mental blocks. I experienced this on a more personal level with one of my best friend’s. Her father, also her coach, always pressured her to be the best. He made her practice extra hours, attend camps unwillingly, and miss social events for sports. This left her with anxiety on and off the field, eventually leading her to quitting sports all together. Seeing this was eye opening to me because I had always experienced the complete opposite, support in failure and success. Therefore, with my experiences in mind I think research like the study conducted here should be shared with parents more often. I say this because I often find that these obsessive parents don’t even realize their pushing their kids to the brink and would act otherwise if they knew the consequences of their actions. Overall, I believe if research like this is shared with parents on a larger scale we can begin to bring sports back to their core; enjoyment, team building, and leisure with a competitive edge.

I totally agree with this article. I think that if parents are too involved and try to do too much with their children’s sports careers that it will be negative for them. If parents just say supportive things for their children then I think that will help to best in the end, because then they want to do better for them, and for you to be proud of them. If your son wants to go play catch in the backyard that is fine, but if you make him throw until his arm is sore, I believe that is where it goes too far. Sports should not be a chore for children, they should have it as a time to be free and enjoy it, not to be annoyed by their parents the whole time. I believe that great athletes are self-motivated. If they want to be the best and believe they can be the best, they will do all they can to be, but only they can force themselves to do it. Parents put their children in sports to have fun and make friends, and if that’s all the child wants it to be, you shouldn’t force them to take it more seriously.
My dad put me in multiple sports as a very young child, and I loved all of them, sports were just natural to me. My dad was always supportive and would give me little hints to help me get better when I was young, but as I got older It changed. My dad started to get too into my sports, I did take them seriously, especially basketball but my dad started be annoying to me with sports. He would want me to go improve my shot all the time and constantly nag to me about the things I can improve and such. Then I started to just shut him out, because it started to hurt my game instead of help.

This post came to my attention because I have been playing sports sine I was able to walk. It was very interesting to learn about research pertaining to parenting a young athlete. Also since I plan to have my children be athletic and play sports, this post interested me. It was good to point out the differences between the parenting styles of and supportively aggressive parent, and those who are responsive to their child’s needs. Since there will continue to be more and more athletes, it would beneficial for more parents to know the consequences and rewards of being a demanding or responsive parent. Being around countless athletes in my life, I’ve seen many different types of parenting, and how their children respond to it. I agree with this article, although I also believe that as a parent, you should push your child to try new things.

Being an athlete myself, I know first-hand a lot about the parents that are way too pushy and the parents that are relaxed. I played on a lot of different lacrosse teams in my career and I have seen some of the worst parents imaginable. I agree that parents that are not as demanding towards their kids sports are better than the pushy ones. For me, my parents were never really the demanding parents and that’s why I believe I like the sport of lacrosse even better. Not only did they let me go out and have fun, but even after a bad game they were still optimistic about things that happened. I believe that is the reason why I am able to play lacrosse in college. I’ve also seen some of my friends parents be way too hard on their kids, if it was either making their kid do extra running or an extra camp that they didn’t want to do it always affected the kid poorly. When kid’s get pushed too hard by their parent, they hate the sport. If a parent keeps making their kid do way too much with a sport they will develop a mindset that they are never good enough and it will show on the field. I liked the way the study was done, through soccer parents because I know just how bad they can be too. I agree with your point of view on this article and believe the study was done very good.

I completely agree with your opinion about parents causing their child to dislike the sport if they are pushed too far by their parents. I am currently on a competitive dance team back home which is similar to a sport. Like a sport, a dance team requires a team or group of people competing to win against another team. Also like a sport, a dance team is meant to be fun and healthy for a child or person to be involved in, but dance moms can also ruin their child’s experience of competing. One girl one my team has a mom who completely stresses her out every competition day. Her mom is always negative towards her daughter’s dance performance and is always critiquing her. It seems like her mom is never happy with her daughter’s performance which she is not afraid of letting everyone know. All this negativity brings her daughter down and makes her feel terrible about herself, which she shouldn’t feel the day of a competition. Sometimes her daughter tries to stand up for herself but this only causes a huge fight which makes the entire team feel awkward and uncomfortable. Her mom shouldn’t try to upset her daughter and control they way she performs on stage; it’s only making her daughter regret doing what I know she loves to do. I believe that parents should be supporting their child when it comes to sports or anything that their child wants to pursue in life. They should never be negative or insulting because it only hurts their child’s self-esteem and no parent should ever do that to their child.

As an athlete, this post attracted my attention because it is a controversial issue that is very popular in kid’s sports. I grew up playing sports and it was always obvious which parents were pushing their kids too hard. Even when I attend my younger cousins’ games now, it is easy to tell which parents are too involved and putting too much pressure on their kids. Some parents will watch in the stands and scream out orders and directions for their kids to follow instead of just cheering them on. I believe that it ruins the experience for the kids when their parents put so much pressure on them. It is important for the parents to remember that they are only kids doing a sport for fun and because they enjoy playing it. I also agree that it is important for the parents to encourage their children to try new things and branch out. They should not pressure them to do one sport because the kid could eventually outgrow it. When they’re young is a good time for kids to try many things. I agree with your post and think it was a good choice to write about because it is so relatable.

I have noticed this consistently throughout my grade school career. Star athletes who seem like they have everything, including ‘supportive’ parents, yet only a select few will realize the difference in which you highlighted between being supportive and being demanding. Not to say that all athletes that are at the top of their game have what the article deems as demanding parents, but they do exist, and it begs the question on how much a demanding parental style will impact a child. From what I have witnessed, I personally believe that it is significantly detrimental to developing, because that child that grows up with a demanding parent will learn to only push him/herself by the wants of the parent.
One thing I noted is that this issue does not just have to deal specifically with sports. Granted, the research article was based around sports and parents, however, it can apply to areas such as music and regular academics. It is all based around the same principle, that demanding parents reduce the enjoyment or love of whatever their kids do by overstraining them.

I agree that playing sports when you're younger is a great way to meet new people your age. I can imagine being a parent of a child in a sport must be fun also because you get to see your child succeeding in a sport that you may love. Obviously there is a line that is drawn when sports can become overwhelming and not fun anymore. Once a child loses that drive, it is hard to obtain that drive again. Without having the "fire" in you to play a sport, that sport becomes more or less a job. From my personal experience of watching my brother play sports, I could tell that he was slowly being driven too hard. He was trying to play soccer, basketball, and track in high school while taking all advanced courses. With all those responsibilities riding on him, the sports that he is playing have to be fun or else a domino effect could occur. Eventually during his senior year he was almost driven away from basketball due to the sport being overwhelming and not fun. My mother used to sign him up for every summer basketball camp possible, that is when it went too far. You can only handle so much of one sport. In his situation, he already lost the drive to play basketball due to his coach then he couldn't escape basketball due to our parents. Sometimes parents do need to take a step back and let their child have fun. I have seen countless parents at basketball games being too hard on their child. You can always see it after high school basketball games. If you pay attention you will see certain kids that have just been worked to the bone and then they have to sit in their parent's car and get scrutinized about how they played.

This post is very relatable to my experience with sports growing up. I played a lot of little league sports, and it was always the same parents giving their child a hard time. There is much debate over whether or not these parents are doing the "right" or "wrong" thing for their child, but my friends who had a "demanding" parent often "burnt out" of sports by the time they hit high school. I have seen many times parents getting thrown out and even banned from their child's athletic games. My best friend's father would take his son off of the field in the middle of a baseball game if he did not like how he was pitching, followed by a car ride home filled with yelling. This was very damaging to my friend and severely affected their relationship. I always had extremely supportive parents when it came to sports, and both of my parents played sports competitively. In my opinion, this is a huge factor in the enjoyment someone will get out of their sport. I am glad that in this research study there was an overwhelming majority of parents who were considered "responsive." This study can be relatable to many activities, though. There are parents in every aspect of life who may be pushing their children too hard. Academics, hobbies, music, etc. could all be considered for this study.

I agree with this article and can personally relate to it too. Parents often lose sight of the idea behind little league sports. The general idea is to teach the child the game, learn teamwork, good sportsmanship, and most importantly have fun. Yes, one out of every 200 kids playing a little league sport will continue on to receive a division 1 scholarship, but it seems like some parents think that they could make their kid that lucky one by pushing and pushing. Kids who are pushed to the limit often lose interest in the sport, which they would have loved had their parents not been so hard on them. In my many years of sports i have witnessed and been through this so much. Out of the many different sports i have encountered, one sport stuck out to me the most when i read this article; little league baseball. It is every kids paradise and favorite past time. I played little league from kindergarten until seventh grade and also umpired and coached for 5 years. I've seen parents scream at their children, use physical force on them and make them cry. I loved baseball, but unfortunately my father was always the coach, meaning he was the hardest on me. Anything the team had to do, i had to do better or i would get an ear full after practice. Every pitch, at bat, and movement was critiqued and it annoyed the hell out of me. I decided not to play baseball after little league in 8th grade because i lost interest and hated the pressure. Then in 10th grade i decided to try it again but got cut from my JV team because i hadn't kept up with the talent level. My dad didn't make me quit baseball, but he helped my decision. I think this topic is a problem for kids who just want to have fun, however, in regard to kids who actually love the game and want nothing more to achieve success, having someone to push you is the best thing. If you look back to little league days you will notice the trend that all the kids who were good and the ones who play in college now were the coaches sons or the sons of the parents who were hard on them. It's not a coincidence.

This post really interests me and really caught my eye, being an athlete myself, I have witnessed plenty of scenarios where parents have gotten way too involved in the child's sport and become demanding and pushy. I have had a handful of teammates who start to dislike the sport because of their parents, or their parents embarrass them by getting too into it. Parents can be so hard on their children and really get into their children's heads so easily about things, saying they are doing this or that wrong, or should be playing more or not. My dad, being a coach, has experienced parents being crazy at first hand. They come to him telling him their kid should be playing more or asking questions about their kid like how they are doing in practice or what they need to improve on, but their kid doesn't even know they are talking to him or even want to. They get way too into the kids sport, its almost like they are trying to live through their kids. Lucky for me my parents have been nothing more than supportive. They have supported me through everything and not once have acted demanding. As described in this post, their parenting style would be described as responsiveness parenting. I work at the ice rink here at the college and I am shocked daily about how the parents act during the hockey games, even if its younger kids. I think this is an issue among athletes of all ages. I enjoyed reading this post because it is extremely relatable to all athletes and being one myself, and having a dad that coaches as well, I have witnessed this issue and it occurs more than it should.

I understand this very well. Growing up playing many different sports, I’ve had my fair share of seeing some extremely demanding parents. Playing soccer my whole life I have attended many tournaments. You can pretty much see some of the demanding parents around. Therefore, I do agree that there are many demanding parents. For me, my parents were never demanding when it came to sports. Sure, they always cheered and wanted me to succeed, but what parent doesn’t. Even when things sometimes didn’t go my way, my parents never got on my case. I think this is what strives to me to be able to play college soccer. My parents just want to see me do well and have fun. Parents that are too demanding on their kids don’t know how much it could affect them. Weather its them playing poorly in the sport, or even their relationship outside of the sport. I can relate to this article very much so. I agree with you and believe this article was done very well.

This topic drew my eye because of my involvement in sports and because of my very supportive parents. I believe that there is a limit that parents should know not to push when it comes to sports and pushing their children. Personally i think that it is very necessary for parents to become involved and to push their children when it comes to athletics. It gives a kid the drive to succeed and can also make them enjoy it in some cases even more than they originally did. Now of course there is always going to be a limit when it comes to these things because you don't want to be pushed so far that the sport is unenjoyable. It obviously happens to some which is unfortunate because sports as a whole allow many life lessons to be learned and other helpful traits. So when a parent is to push their kid too far they run the risk of their children not gaining from athletics and not getting the feeling of being a team. That will be all.

Coming from an athletes perspective, sports isn't just something that keeps people occupied, it means more to us than others think. I agree with your statement on how parents shouldn't be controlling of their children while playing sports. There is a huge difference between supporting and dictating your child when they are involved with any sport. Sports should be something kids love to do, not because its something that the parents want their kids to do. When i was little i hated playing basketball, but loved playing soccer. My dad was so into basketball that he would never let me quit no matter how badly i didn't want to continue playing. He was so involved with my team, that he made me not enjoy the sport anymore. As the years went on, my dad slowly backed away from coaching so I could start to love the game again. If parents are too caught up in their children's lives with sports, they will lose sight of how their child is feeling about playing the game. Parents always want to see their children doing well, but they need to realize theres a fine line that should not be crossed or else it could ruin their child's experience of playing. This post is an interesting topic that should be more popular in the world since there is definitely a correlation between the parents control over the kids and the support they give their children.

Throughout high school and college I’ve always been playing organized sports and the idea of parents pushing their kids too hard is definitely prominent. I wrestled all through high school and have seen some pretty nasty fathers. Some have been put into wrestling by their fathers at a very young age and because of their experience, they try to push their kids to be the best. Unfortunately this comes out very negatively. I’ve seen kids lose upset matches and see various punishments from parents. One of the most shocking things is when a kid loses and you watch his dad smack him upside the head. The big problem is that this is a fairly common thing in wrestling and I think it needs to be stopped.
I really like how your article is written but I would have liked to know more about the actual results of the experiment. I would’ve liked to know more about how parenting styles effected the kids’ performance. Also there would’ve had to be some assumptions in the experiment. I think the authors would’ve had to assume that the girls in the experiment were all fairly equal in skill and have had pretty much the same amount of experience in the sport. IF certain people have had more experience, it might affect how or if their parents helped them at all

I played sports my whole life and so have my sisters therefore I have been at and participated in many different sporting events. I have defiantly seen both types of parents which makes me agree with this theory. I feel like if one didn't participate or been at different sporting events, they wouldn't really understand where this article is coming from. My perspective and opinion came from the fact that I have seen so much of this. My parents wanted me and my sisters to do well of course but never went overboard and pushed us. This made us love the sport we were doing and looked forward to it. I know some kids who have parents that overdo it and are embarrassed because of it. They aren't able to focus on their sport but only on their crazy parents. These kids can't enjoy a sport which they should love. This makes me upset considering swimming was always a big part of my life. A big part of why that is comes from how my parents acted. They pushed me enough to want to do my past but never went overboard with it. Parents in the stands should know what is and isn't appropriate when it comes to their child's sport. There should be a balance between supportive and pushing.

I played sports all throughout my life and seen all kinds of coaching styles from parents. There’s always the supportive one that knows nothing about the sport, the parent who encourages their kid to do their best, and the parent who thinks they’re the coach and their child is a division 1 athlete at squirt level, etc. I have pretty mixed feelings about this issue. I definitely see a big correlation between parents pushing their children too hard, which causes them to lose love for the sport, but I’ve also seen several of my friends who have these parents go onto being division 1 athletes. On the flip side there are a lot of kids who say they wished their parents had pushed them harder so they could be better. I think just like any situation in life there are pros and cons to either side, but I agree and see where this article is coming from.

This post is really interesting in that it brings to light whether a child should be pushed to their limits in sports. I really like the design of the article; the design seemed to have a holistic approach and viewed the different variables, such as parenting approaches, in depth. Despite that, I would have liked to see data from the male side as well out of both curiosity and a desire to understand if there are gender differences. The reason I wonder about gender differences is due to my personal experience.

I have been playing hockey since about 7 years old, and I remember it as the best experience growing up. Not only was I on a great team, but they also were my support group—I was surrounded by friends, family, and mentors. For many years, my father was the head coach, which created a lot of pressure on me to perform well. I would be expected to do exceptionally well, simply because I was the coach’s child. At least, that's what my dad thought. I would be yelled at after the game for how I had played, if I did not perform well, even if the team won the game. He pushed me to be the best, but I had constant criticisms that often came across as negative feedback.

Looking back at my years in hockey, I wish that I would have never left despite that I hated the sport when I was playing. If my dad gave me more positive feedback, I believe that my experiences would have been more enjoyable. I am glad that he pushed me to get to my highest level of performance; because of that, I was recognized throughout Ontario with many awards. Although so, with positive feedback maybe I could have enjoyed hockey more, and spent more time practicing, rather than resenting my dad and his connection to the game.

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