Athlete parents could use spring training

March 19, 2008 at 6:56 PM
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SEATTLE, March 19 (UPI) -- To make youth sports a fun, learning experience for children, U.S. sport psychologists suggest parents participate in some "spring training" of their own.

University of Washington sport psychologists Frank Smoll and Ron Smith said there is no problem getting coaches to attend educational workshops.

"The challenge is convincing organizations to offer parent workshops and getting parents to come," Smoll said in a statement.

The Seattle researchers tracked 151 boys and girls playing in two different basketball leagues with an average age of 11.6 years. Coaches in one league participated in a training workshop emphasizing teaching youngsters about personal improvement, giving maximum effort, having fun, sportsmanship and supporting their teammates -- rather than a winning-at-all-costs approach.

Parents participated in a companion Mastery Approach to Parenting in Sports workshop that emphasized how they can reduce performance anxiety in their children.

Coaches and parents in the second league were not offered the workshops.

The study, published in the Journal of Youth Development, found the athletes exposed to the mastery climate were able to concentrate more, had less worries about their performance, were less tense, had fewer queasy stomachs and less experienced feeling tight muscles.

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