Athletes’ Perceptions of Unsupportive Parental Behaviours in Competitive Female Youth Golf

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Research exploring athletes and coaches’ perceptions of parent involvement in youth sport has demonstrated the presence of maladaptive parent involvement in youth sport. This research has provided insights into inappropriate parenting practices displayed in the youth sport environment. However, representative of the broader sport parenting literature, data has been primarily gleaned from sports such as tennis and football. In a bid to diversify participant populations, the present study sought to examine female youth golfers’ views of unsupportive parental behaviors within the competitive youth golf environment. Fourteen online synchronous focus groups were conducted with 61 female youth golfers in the specializing (n = 27) and investment (n = 34) stages of development, recruited from seven countries across three continents (Australia, Canada, England, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, and Scotland). Reflexive thematic analysis revealed three higher-order categories of unsupportive parental behaviors: Emotional Ill-Treatment; Physical Ill-Treatment; and Pressurizing Behavior. Parenting practices consistent with emotional ill-treatment (e.g., verbal ill-treatment) have been previously discussed within the sport parenting literature, however the presence of physical ill-treatment displayed by parents toward child-athletes has not been commonly reported. The present research provides novel insights into athletes’ perceptions of these maladaptive behaviors, and demonstrates that, similar to other youth sports, unsupportive parental behaviors are evident in the youth golf environment. The findings of the current research further reinforce the need for reporting mechanisms for allegations of abuse within youth sport, continued stakeholder education, the development of safeguarding cultures, and also the need to explore parents’ experiences of exhibiting maladaptive involvement. Lay summary: Female youth golfers’ views of unsupportive parental behaviors in the specializing and investment stages of development were explored. Three higher order categories of unsupportive parental behaviors in competitive youth golf were identified: Emotional Ill-Treatment; Physical Ill-Treatment; and Pressurizing Behavior.IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE Findings highlight the need for applied practitioners to work with sport organizations in developing and implementing holistic safeguarding cultures, to prevent child maltreatment in youth sport. Findings can be utilized by applied practitioners, governing bodies, and sport organizations to inform the content of future educational resources and programs for parents of youth golfers,.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)960-982
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Applied Sport Psychology
Issue number6
Early online date18 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 18 Jan 2023

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© 2023 Association for Applied Sport Psychology.


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