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CELEBRATING SPORT PARENTS! A look into Parents Weekend with the University of Alberta Pandas basketball team.





CONTACT US E-MAIL thesportparent@gmail.com OR CLICK HERE


CONTRIBUTORS Isabel Ormond Kev & Lyss Comics Helene Jorgensen, MA Colin Deal, MA Active for Life



Check out Active for Life's Parents in Sport toolkit!


FAVOURITE THINGS We asked youth sport athletes about their favourite things their parents do for them in sport.



Each year, the University of Alberta Pandas basketball team invites their parents to participate in a weekend of celebration and team bonding. BY ISABEL ORMOND MCOACH CANDIDATE As our team entered the bus to head to the 7th Annual Golden Bears & Pandas basketball golf tournament, things were a little different. The bus was not only filled with Pandas Basketball athletes and coaches, but also with fathers and their golf clubs. This year, the team "dads" were invited to spend a weekend of quality time with their daughters, while getting acquainted with the Pandas basketball community. The dads were invited to join our team at events such as: an event supporting Golden Bears football, 18 holes of golf, and an evening social. To cap off the event, Pandas Basketball athletes prepared, for their dads, a home-cooked breakfast the following morning, It was time for the dads to put their feet up and relax.

Scott Edwards, head coach of the University of Alberta Pandas basketball team, began this family tradition in the fall of 2015. His goal was to give parents an opportunity to spend time with the people who would be surrounding their daughters during their time at university. Parent Weekend is a unique event where parents can feel embraced within their daughters' university lifestyle. The Parent Weekend centres around a group activity, alternating each year between the team “moms” and the team “dads”.

The end result is a Pandas basketball culture that takes on a family dynamic, where athletes get to know each other’s families and parents can gain insight on what their daughter is experiencing in university, as well as her newfound relationships. By all accounts, Parent Weekend has been a success for the past four years. Looking back on past Parent Weekends, long-time Assistant Coach Kelly Haggstrom remembered the first Parent Weekend: “the moment I knew it was going to become a great tradition was when the Moms streamed into the gym with about 5 minutes left in warmups […] dressed up in their Moms’ weekend tshirts (including a personalized logo), with noisemakers and Panda face tattoos and signs.”

Isabel is a 2nd year Masters in Coaching student and assistant coach with the University of Alberta Pandas basketball team. Her Masters capping project focuses on the parentcoach and child-athlete experience.

Developing the Pandas basketball culture to resemble a family unit has been a longstanding priority for Scott. At elite levels, it is easy to overlook some of the key influencers in an athlete’s life. A first coach, classmate, friend, teammate, co-worker, sibling, parent, or boss often play an invaluable role in the athlete being where they are today. Focusing on the importance of the parent-child relationship, Scott has made a point to emphasize fostering positive interactions between parents and daughters, “Your child needs every ounce of support you can give them -  they need your unconditional love and nothing less. The best thing you can do for your athlete as a parent is to just remind them that you love them and that you love to watch them play.”


Activities in the past have ranged from exhibition games, to cooking lessons, to hiking trips in Banff, Alberta. Each year, the athletes share something unique about their family. Not only did this become a fun bonding experience, it supported meaningful discussion among family members. Scott recalls leaving no dry eye in the room.

As a parent, if you want to be involved with your child’s team, ask a coach how you can provide help outside practice – organizing team meals, snacks, gatherings, or other activities that do not have to be on the playing field. Help your young athletes buy into the team aspect of their sport by supporting the team, cheering for everyone, and celebrating each athlete’s achievements. The University of Alberta Pandas basketball team would like to send a huge thank you to sport parents:

“I’ve learned so much about every family that has come through our program. Getting the opportunity to have our parents spend time with the team is a true blessing and I’m grateful for every relationship that has come from them. I think it has made me a more compassionate coach and I just want to say thank you to all parents involved with sport!” – Head Coach, Scott Edwards

“It doesn’t get said enough, thank you for your support of youth sport. The early mornings or late nights for practices, the rushed meals, the financial commitments, and everything else you do that I am missing on the list. Thank you!” – Assistant Coach, Kelly Haggstrom

“Being a university studentathlete makes up a huge part of my life. To have the opportunity to show my parents what they have helped me work so hard for is an incredible experience. I can’t thank them enough for their unwavering support. Thank you, mom and dad, and sport parents!” - #12, Megan Tywoniuk

a lot of d n e p s get to the “I don’t during d a d y ve ith m e to ha c time w i n s a o, it w w him week. S nd sho a d n I e ek to me. s the we n a e m uch he ing how m be play t o n d im. l wou ot for h n s a w ball if it basket you.” Thank er Ledgist a n n e k - #7, Ma

Keep up-to-date with our team through Twitter or Instagram (@pandasbball) and stop by to say 'Hi!' at any of our games this season, a full schedule can be found HERE.

Source: Pynn, S. R., Dunn, J. G. H., & Holt, N. L. (in press). A qualitative study of exemplary parenting in competitive female youth team sport. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology.

Kev & Lyss Comics was created and is operated by Kevin Corus. Kevin is a Visual Communications student at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton, Alberta.




Sport parents: Do you ever

but with some strategies at

wonder how you can best

hand you can answer these

support your child in sports?

questions and enhance your

Or, how you can help when

child’s journey in sports. This

your child is experiencing

article offers a set of general

both challenges and successes

guidelines on supportive

in sport? The tasks you are

behaviours and strategies that

facing as a sport parent may

sport parents can adopt, using

feel overwhelming at first,

an easy-to-remember acronym, PARENTS.



Your ability to engage positive interactions and maintain a good relationship with your child and the team will influence the overall quality of the environment. Research has shown that parents can help improve the player’s enjoyment, sense of competence, and motivation by providing praise and understanding. >>How? Show your support and cheer on all the players – not just your child. Keep your comments on game day positive by emphasizing effort, attitude, and enjoyment. For example, be attentive to the game, and keep a positive attitude throughout the game regardless of the result.





In general, spectators in a youth sport competition provide around 105 comments per game. The communication can be positive or negative, verbal or non-verbal, and includes sideline behaviours such as

One way to increase the potential for your

clapping or yelling that will be interpreted

child to enjoy their time in sport is by

by your child and other players on the

addressing THEIR needs.

team. Children involved in sport say they

>>How? Engage and listen to what your

prefer when their parents model good

child wants from you in different


situations. Ask your child what they need

>>How? Show respect and talk positively to

from you! Take time to learn about the

all the athletes, coaches, and referees.

rules and strategies of the sport and be an

Also, ask your child about their preference

informed spectator. It can be a good idea

for your sideline behaviours: Do they like it

to learn about the physical, mental, and

when you are clapping and cheering? Or,

technical demands of the sport to

do they prefer you to be more or less

appreciate your child’s experiences.




Environments that focus on mastering



There is a general assumption that

skills as opposed to winning or losing have

children develop through three distinct

been linked to greater athlete motivation

stages in sport: stage 1 (age 6-12), stage 2

and satisfaction. Children can be sensitive

(age 13-16), and stage 3 (age 16+). Parents

to whether parents provide them with

should adapt their support in tandem with

feedback or criticism. By focusing on

their child’s progression and

mastery, they will measure success in

developmental needs, in addition to the

learning new skills and self-improvement

child’s own preferences. It is important

versus succeeding against others.

that parents successfully negotiate

>>How? Give praise for trying hard. This

shifting roles as their child develops and

helps create an enjoyable environment

transitions through different

and minimizes the pressure to perform.

developmental phases.

For example, give feedback that helps your

>>How? Make holistic development a

child develop a healthy view on success by

priority and be supportive. For example,

focusing on effort rather than outcome in

remind your child (and yourself) that


success is not equivalent to winning: it is a

training and competitions.


It is not just a matter of how much you’re involved, rather the quality of your involvement is a predictor of your child's enjoyment. Place the focus on them and base your involvement on their goals. Initially, their goals may be heavily influenced by your own, but goals can change over time as your child develops independence. >>How? Once again, ask your child how you can be involved and give them opportunities to be independent.

long-term process that requires time to develop new skills.



Parents can improve their child’s sport experience by being autonomy supportive. One way to do this is to create structure and boundaries (such as rules and expectations), while allowing your child to be independent and roam freely within those boundaires. Youth sport participation provides a pathway of opportunities to act autonomously, to experience and develop qualities of independence with parental approval and a parental safety net. >>How? Consider how you create boundaries and what types of choices you allow your child to make. For example, ask your child about what boundaries they

Parents, you are an asset to your child and to sport organizations.

want to create in sport. Give them a sense

Optimal involvement occurs over

of being in the front seat and having you

time, should be individualized to

as their co-pilot.

each child, and depends on you seeking ways to understand your child’s journey in sport. By Helene Jørgensen is a PhD student at the University of Alberta. Her research interests include positive youth development through sport, as well as coaching biathlon.

providing positive interactions, opportunities for decisionmaking, and navigating your own involvement based on their goals, you can enhance your child's opportunities for success and enjoyment in sport.

Parents in Sport 08 toolkit


Active for Life is a national initiative created to help parents raise physically literate children. Whether it’s driving kids to practices and games, preparing team snacks, organizing events, or providing a listening and supportive ear, parents play an essential role in supporting their children in sport and activity. Active for Life is proud to support parents in sport. In their Parents in Sport toolkit, you will find a variety of articles and resources to help parents, coaches, and sport organizations to understand and promote positive sport parenting.

>> Tips for Parents >> 5 Ways to Support Your Child in Sport >> What Your Child's Coach Wants You to Know

Click here to access the full Parents in Sport toolkit At activeforlife.com, parents, educators, and coaches will find fun activities, engaging articles, and free resources to get kids active, healthy and happy. Sign up for Active for Life’s monthly newsletters. Connect with Active for Life on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


“What is your favourite thing your parents do for you in sport?” Colin Deal, PhD Candidate

From being a chaffeur to and from games and practices,, to paying for registration fees and equipment, parents do A LOT to make youth sport possible. For this 'Parent Appreciation' issue of The Sport Parent, I wanted to find out what youth athletes are thankful for and share some researchsupported advice to help parents and guardians continue making youth sport the amazing and positive experience that it can be. I asked youth athletes and former university athletes, “What is your favourite thing that your parents do or have done that has helped you in sport?” Here are some of the responses I got:


“I loved that my parents were supportive of my dreams and backed me up 100%. They never put pressure on me ... Which I have seen with other parents. Parents saying to their kids ‘you better do good in this because we paid a lot of money to get here’, or various other reasons, put a lot of pressure on athletes to perform that doesn’t need to be there.” -Kyla (16)

Kyla values the support her parents provide her and is thankful that they don’t pressure her. For parents, it can be difficult to figure out where the line is between being supportive and exerting pressure. Parent support refers to behaviours or comments that help achieve goals that are important to the youth athlete, like


Teen Magazine

registering for a sports camp they want to attend. On the other hand, parent pressure is behaviours or comments that promote attainment of goals important to the parent (check out ‘Friday Night Tykes’ on Netflix for some examples). Researchers Chris Harwood and Camilla Knight (2015) suggest that a key to being an ‘expert’ sport parent is to recognize and understand children’s goals and to provide the necessary emotional (e.g., helping cope with a setback like getting cut), tangible (e.g., driving to and from games, paying fees), and informational support (e.g., general advice for managing demands of sport and school) to help children achieve their goals. So, don’t hesitate to talk with your child about their goals in sport and when in doubt you can always ask “How can I help you with that?” “My parents just expect me to do my best. I don’t ever feel like I have to be playing”. -Reid (14)

There are many things that have an effect on whether or not your child will win their competition: their skill level, how much they’ve prepared, how their opponents and teammates play, coaching decisions, calls made by the officials, and sometimes even luck. A lot of these factors are beyond your child’s control. Focusing on Reid’s effort and doing his best promotes a ‘mastery’ climate in which the focus is on effort, process, and improvement. This is opposed to a ‘performance’ climate in which the focus is on wins and losses or outperforming others. Compared to performance climates, mastery climates have been associated with positive

outcomes such as greater levels of selfesteem and greater self-driven behavior. You can help foster a mastery climate with your child and their teammates by focusing your praise on your effort with comments like “You were always skating back on defense, great job!” rather than outcomes “A goal and two assists, way to go!”

“They also support the team a lot by volunteering to help out." -Jarrett (13)

Jarrett is thankful for how his parents’ support his team. Showing up to games and tournaments to cheer your child and their teammates on is great way to support the team. Another way to support the team is by volunteering. A 2013 report published by Statistics Canada found that over 2 million Canadians volunteered as administrators or helpers in sport, with approximately another million serving as coaches or trainers, and over half a million referees or officials! Clubs and teams are almost always looking for volunteers to fill various roles, and volunteering in this way will not only benefit your child but will also reach others in the club or on the team. So, if you have the time (we know that being a parent can be busy!) consider volunteering for your child’s sport club. If you don’t have time to volunteer that’s okay too; you can still help by being a model parent and spectator.


Teen Magazine

“My parents let my coaches do the coaching and they were always there to give me a hug after every game.” -Jenna (25)

In a 2011 study, Camilla Knight and colleagues interviewed 36 young female athletes about how they wanted their parents to behave in sport. They found that during competition, athletes preferred when parents provided support and encouragement. Shouting instructions can be confusing for players trying to play the game. It can make it difficult for them to listen to their coaches and may even create awkward situations when a parents' instructions conflicts with the instructions given by the coach. Some parent behaviors are more appreciated by young athletes than others. Perhaps the most simple and easiest thing to do is be like Jenna's parents and keep the coaching to the coach and just be there to give your child a hug after every game, win or lose!

Sources & Additional Reading:

Harwood, C. G., & Knight, C. J. (2015). Parenting in youth sport: A position paper on parenting expertise. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 16, 24-35. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2014.03.001 Knight, C. J., Neely, K. C., & Holt, N. L. (2011). Parental Behaviors in Team Sports: How do Female Athletes Want Parents to Behave? Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 23, 76-92.

Colin Deal is a PhD Candidate at the University of Alberta. His research interests include coaches’ influences on positive youth development and the transfer of life skills beyond the context of sport in the form of contributions to the community.

“The last two years I’ve got to go to a hockey academy, which has really helped my hockey and my school.” -Neil (16)

Neil is commenting on how his parents provided him with a valued developmental opportunity. This isn’t to say parents have to send their children to special school or camps, rather parents can help seek out and provide developmental opportunities that align with their children’s goals. Harwood and Knight (2015) emphasize that parents not only support their children’s sport participation, but also help select sport opportunities that are developmentally appropriate. There is a growing body of literature that supports the idea that children and younger adolescents should ‘sample’ multiple sports and activities focusing on fun and enjoyment and only ‘specialize’ (i.e., focus on a single sport or two) later in adolescence. This approach has been linked to range of desirable outcomes including more positive sport experiences, greater levels of sport participation as adults, and lower rates of injury.

N A ASK T R E EXP We understand that parenting in youth sport can be a challenging and complex endeavor. We want to help you be the best sport parent you can be by using our research-informed expertise to answer your parenting questions. If you'd like to have your questions answered and featured in the next issue of The Sport Parent magazine, click the link! >>>


ASK A QUESTION You can also choose to receive a direct response to your question via email!

Do you know someone who is a great sport parent?

In the next issue of The Sport Parent, we would like to feature someone who exemplifies what it means to be a great sport parent! Got someone in mind? Click here to nominate someone you know and tell us why you think they are a great sport parent!

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