Organized youth sport is the most popular structured activity that American children participate in. Youth sport provides a setting for children to make friends, develop skills, and have fun. Youth sport also has a long list of health benefits, making it an ideal setting to foster positive development in your child.

Parents are active participants in organized youth sport, exhibiting a range of involvement behaviors over the course of their children’s development. However, despite positive intentions, parents are not always involved in appropriate ways. This is important because when children perceive their parents as supportive, they reach higher levels of performance, experience increased enjoyment and motivation, and report improved parent-child relationships.

In short, positive outcomes do not happen automatically or without effort in youth sport settings — rather, they must be intentionally pursued. Despite this, parents receive little to no training on how to best serve as providers, interpreters, and role models for their children in organized youth sport.

The purpose of this Guide is to provide a strength-based approach to parenting in organized youth sport. We do not think of parents as a “problem”, but rather as an important resource that can and should be used to enhance children’s positive youth development, performance, enjoyment, and motivation in sport!

Simply put, our aim is to provide caring parents with the tips, tools, and strategies to become effective participants in organized youth sport. In doing so, we are confident that parents can help coaches and sport practitioners foster a more developmentally appropriate environment for young athletes, thus affording more positive opportunities and outcomes for children as they participate in organized youth sport.