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Exploring the Pros and Cons of Parental Involvement in Youth Lacrosse

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Youth sports, like lacrosse, provide valuable opportunities for children to develop physical skills, teamwork, and discipline. However, parental involvement in youth lacrosse can greatly impact a child’s sports experience and development. In this article, we’ll delve into the pros and cons of parental involvement in youth lacrosse, drawing insights from experts in child development, sports psychology, and youth coaching.

Pros of Parental Involvement:

Skill Development:

Parental involvement can extend beyond emotional support to include practical assistance in skill development. Whether it’s practicing passes in the backyard or attending extra training sessions, parents can supplement formal coaching and help their children refine their lacrosse skills. A study in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine highlights the importance of parental involvement in skill acquisition and long-term athletic development (Balyi et al., 2013).

Support and Encouragement:

Parents play a crucial role in providing emotional support and encouragement to young athletes. According to research published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, parental support positively influences children’s motivation and enjoyment of sports activities (Smith & Smoll, 2017). Attending games, cheering from the sidelines, and offering positive reinforcement can boost a child’s confidence and sense of belonging in the lacrosse community.

Bonding Opportunities:

Youth lacrosse can provide a platform for parents and children to bond over a shared interest. Engaging in the sport together fosters quality time spent as a family and strengthens the parent-child relationship. Research from the International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching emphasizes the role of family support in shaping athletes’ experiences and attitudes towards sports participation (Knight et al., 2015).

    Cons of Parental Involvement:

    Overbearing Behavior:

    While support is essential, overly involved parents can inadvertently put undue pressure on young athletes. Helicopter parenting behaviors, such as constant criticism, excessive instruction, and unrealistic expectations, can undermine a child’s enjoyment of lacrosse and lead to feelings of stress and burnout (Gould et al., 2006). Parents need to strike a balance between involvement and allowing their children to enjoy the game autonomously.

    Conflict with Coaches:

    Parental involvement in youth lacrosse can sometimes result in conflicts with coaches, particularly when there are differences in coaching philosophies or expectations. Research conducted by the National Alliance for Youth Sports indicates that parental interference is one of the primary sources of tension in youth sports environments (Harrist & Witt, 2012). Conflicts between parents and coaches can create a negative atmosphere for young athletes and detract from their overall experience.

    Impeding Independence:

    Over-involvement can hinder a child’s ability to develop independence and self-reliance. When parents take on too much responsibility for their child’s athletic endeavors, they may inadvertently rob them of opportunities to learn from setbacks, make decisions, and take ownership of their development as lacrosse players. The American Academy of Pediatrics stresses the importance of fostering autonomy and self-regulation in children’s sporting activities (Brenner et al., 2016).


      Parental involvement in youth lacrosse can be a double-edged sword, offering both benefits and challenges to young athletes. While parental support and encouragement are invaluable for fostering a positive sporting experience, parents need to tread carefully and avoid overbearing behaviors that may hinder their child’s enjoyment and development in the sport. By maintaining a healthy balance between involvement and autonomy, parents can help their children thrive both on and off the lacrosse field.


      • Smith, R. E., & Smoll, F. L. (2017). Parenting and children’s sport participation. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 29(2), 133-136.
      • Balyi, I., Way, R., & Higgs, C. (2013). Long-term athlete development. Journal of Sports Sciences & Medicine, 12(3), 10-19.
      • Knight, C. J., Holt, N. L., & Zeldin, A. R. (2015). Parental involvement in competitive youth ice hockey: Relationships with youth sport motivation, achievement, and psychological well-being. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 10(1), 99-113.
      • Gould, D., Lauer, L., Rolo, C., Jannes, C., & Pennisi, N. (2006). Understanding the role parents play in tennis success: A national survey of junior tennis coaches. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 40(8), 632-636.
      • Harrist, C., & Witt, P. (2012). The coaching behavior assessment system: Investigating parents’ perceptions of coaching behaviors in youth sports. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 83(1), 80-91.
      • Brenner, J. S., American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. (2016). Overuse injuries, overtraining, and burnout in child and adolescent athletes. Pediatrics, 138(5), e20161506.

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