Rohloff, R., Frea, A. G., Busey, S. L., Dempsey, R. L., & Young, C. C. (2006). Parent values for coaching practices and discipline in youth sports. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38(5), Supplement abstract 1741.

This study determined 1) what characteristics of youth coaches were valued by parents and 2) how common coaching disciplinary techniques were viewed by parents.

Parents (N = 376) filled out anonymous surveys at local youth sporting events. Their children included 219 starters, 22 bench players, and 125 in alternating roles. Level of play included 100 beginners, 135 recreational athletes, 81 high school athletes, and 59 members of traveling or select teams.

Expectations of the parents for their children's future participation included playing: professionally (N = 22), in college (N = 132), and in high school (N = 248). Sixty-one parents did not expect the child's activity to become a life-long recreational activity. Disciplinary measures that coaches were reported to have used on the children included: (1) extra exercise (64%); (2) verbal scolding (42%); (3) public embarrassment (18%); (4) suspension (8%); and (5) striking or hitting (2%). Despite disapproval of most of these disciplinary measures, only 7% of the parents had ever withdrawn their child from a team. Overall, parents ranked as the most important skill to be taught by the coaches: (1) teamwork and cooperative skills; (2) sport-specific skills; (3) general fitness skills; and (4) winning mentality. Parents who had been professional/elite athletes who valued sport-specific skills as first priority and parents who hoped their children would become professional athletes, ranked winning mentality as second. Desired coaching characteristics were: (1) good sportsmanship; (2) respect for team members; (3) no swearing or offensive language; (4) respect for referees/officials; (5) respect for opponents; (6) no bending of game rules; (7) teaching the dangers of performance enhancing substances; and (8) playing all players equally. High school parents wanted coaches who put more emphasis on teaching about banned substances and less on not swearing

Implication. Overall, parents had similar expectation of coaches. However, as a child's skill level and parental expectation increased, winning and sports-specific skills become more important and the parents were more likely to tolerate undesirable methods of disciplining their children. Inappropriate coaching disciplinary techniques are common and appear to be at odds with expressed parental values of respect, teamwork, and cooperation. However, most parents in this group had not withdrawn children from participation because of inappropriate disciplinary methods.

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