Advancing a Grounded Theory of Parental Support in Competitive Girls’ Golf

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Parental support in youth sport has been associated with positive athlete outcomes, such as sport enjoyment and continued participation. Although research has demonstrated the significant and influential role parents fulfil in the youth sport context, there remains a dearth of theoretical frameworks detailing parental support in youth sport and an absence of empirical research examining parental support across athlete development stages and sports. The present study sought to examine athletes’ perceptions of parental support, with a view to advancing a grounded theory of parental support in youth golf. Fourteen online synchronous focus groups were conducted with an international sample (Australia, Canada, England, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland) of 61 girls, in the specialising (n = 27) and investment stages (n = 34) of athlete development. Data were analysed in three phases: open-coding, axial coding, and theoretical integration. The substantive grounded theory is constructed on the core category of ‘Individual Parental Support Preferences’. This core category is underpinned by four sub-categories of parental support which were evident across development stages: instrumental, informational, emotional, and autonomy support, and is influenced by a host of athlete (e.g., athletes’ performance), parent (e.g., parents’ knowledge), and contextual characteristics (e.g., location). Unconditional parental support is an important aspect of emotional support, however the concept of adopting a person-first approach to sport parenting is novel. These results provide a rich and novel insight of parental support in girls’ golf, advancing a grounded theoretical understanding of parental support mechanisms in a youth sport context.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Feb 2023


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