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Engaging Parents in Sport

Parents have a unique opportunity to help their children develop life-long engagement and enjoyment with sport and physical activity.

The behaviour of adult figures (coaches, teachers, extended family, etc.), as well as peers and siblings, play an important role in influencing a child's behaviour. However, parents are the enduring role models that their children use as a basis for their own development.

Parents who actively enable their child’s sport and physical activity can offer encouragement and support— financial, practical and psychological. This plays a significant role initiating and sustaining a child’s sports participation and positive mindset towards maintaining physical fitness through life.

Key messages


Parental behaviours and engagement within the sporting environment, parenting style, and, attitudes in general can positively or negatively influence a child’s sporting experience.


AusPlay data shows that 73% of children with at least one active parent participate in organised sport or physical activity outside of school. Participation rises to 88% when at least one parent is both physically active and involved in a non-playing role.


Organisations can foster a ‘partnership philosophy’ which encourages coaches and parents to work together as mutually supportive partners in the development of a child’s sporting potential.

Topic focus

Influence of parents on child participation and development
Support, encouragement and competence.

Parental motivations
The Market Segmentation for Parents study explores parents’ attitudes and behaviours towards sports and sport clubs.

Parental behaviour
Parents serve as role models for all manner of behaviours and attitudes that their children develop.

Parent-coach interaction
The coach is in a powerful position to influence parental behaviors as well as shaping their attitudes about support for their child’s sporting involvement.

Parents as coach
Sometimes, due to a range of circumstances, parents may find themselves accepting a role as a parent-coach.

Resources for organisations and parents

Related Topics

Evaluated by: Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport
Reviewed by: Australasian Sport Information Network
Last updated: 25 May 2021
Content disclaimer: See Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer


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