As a follow-up to the Parents in Sport Week webinar on October 2, co-hosted by Active for Life and the Sport for Life Society, Dr. Tamminen provided these tips.

Be sure to make use of the free resources below to engage and educate your sport parents.

Coping in sport (Gaudreau & Blondin, 2002)
No single coping strategy is universally effective or ineffective; different situations call for different coping strategies

However, task-oriented, engagement coping strategies tend to be associated with more positive outcomes for young athletes

  • Task-oriented coping/engagement coping
    • Asking for advice
    • Thinking positively
    • Imagery/self-talk
    • Relaxation/anxiety control/deep breathing
    • Logically analyzing the problem, opponent’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Disengagement-oriented coping
    • Feeling hopeless and discouraged
    • Wishful thinking
    • Avoiding others (coach, teammates, parents)
  • Distraction-oriented coping
    • Thinking about other things
    • Listening to music to avoid thinking about situation

Strategies for parents to help athletes learn to cope with stress in sport (Tamminen & Holt, 2014)

  • Create a supportive environment
  • Focus on questioning and reminding, rather than telling and directing
  • Provide perspective and share experiences
  • Use stressors as learning opportunities
  • Make time for informal conversations about coping
  • Foster reflective practice among athletes
    • Ask athletes to think about their coping effort and to identify what has worked and what hasn’t worked

Navigating the car ride home (Tamminen, Poucher, & Povilaitis, 2017)

  • Take time to think (for both parents and children/athletes)
  • De-emphasize performance outcomes like wins and losses
  • Use questions in a supportive manner
  • Develop ‘rules of the road’
  • Ask yourself what values you are promoting with your questions and comments
  • Be positive and supportive


How can clubs and teams support positive sport parenting?

  • Engage parents in positive ways
  • Model appropriate behaviours
  • Keep messages consistent
    • Face to face and email
    • Website, social media, newsletters
  • A team meeting is a great way to start the season
  • Communicate throughout the season to build parents’ knowledge around LTAD (Long Term Athlete Development), their child’s sport and the role of a parent
  • Celebrate sport parents as essential to the enjoyment and success of children/athletes
  • Celebrate sport parents’ volunteer contributions as essential to the club’s operations
  • Know that positive coaching behaviours can compensate for parent behaviours that are negative and controlling
  • Make use of existing free resources including:

Many thanks to both of our Parents in Sport Week webinar presenters:

Dr. Katherine Tamminen
University of Toronto
[email protected]
@KA_Tamminen

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