A great deal of research outlines how important father’s are in the lives of their child athletes. Here is a quick summary five positive findings (there are many more of course!):
1. Fathers typically take on the direct and active roles in sport-i.e. “the coach”. Fathers are the majority of coaches in youth sport and by most recent estimates, fathers comprise 80% of more of all youth sport coaches.
2. Fathers can be important active role models for their children. Active dads increase the likelihood of active kids.
3. Fathers’ values, beliefs, & expectations greatly influence the actives lives of their children. For example, children’s perceptions of their father’s beliefs in their sport ability can predict the child’s belief in their own abilities. This is important because children who feel competent and perceive they are good at sport, are more likely to keep playing!
4. When fathers focus on the learning and enjoyment inherent in (most) youth sport, children are more likely to stay in sport, demonstrate better sportsmanship, worry less, and have more fun.
5. Most of all sport provides a meaningful opportunity for fathers to spend quality time with their children in a context most children love and enjoy!
For some great information about the role of fathers in the lives of their children, check out The Dad Man-a.k.a Joe Kelly-who also writes a blog called Dads & Daughters.
For a summary of research on the influence of sport parents in the lives of girls, including fathers, you can download a free copy of The 2007 Tucker Center Research Report: Developing Physically Active Girls (see pages 26-28).
Happy Father’s Day and thanks to all the dads who positively influence their own and other people’s children in youth sport contexts.