The Coach–Parent Relationship and Athlete Development in Elite Youth Hockey: Lessons Learned for Conflict Management

in The Sport Psychologist
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year online subscription

USD  $69.00

1 year online subscription

USD  $92.00

Student 2 year online subscription

USD  $131.00

2 year online subscription

USD  $175.00

Extensive research highlights the important roles of coaches and parents in fostering positive youth development (PYD). However, little research has examined the complex coach–parent relationship in the bidirectional interactions of the coach-parent-athlete triad. This research is particularly pertinent in elite youth sport, wherein the performance-oriented environment may impede the pursuit of PYD. As such, this study aimed to deepen understandings of the coach–parent relationship in relation to athletes’ PYD. Specifically, the first author critically analyzed and reflected on his experiences as an elite youth ice hockey coach, thus offering a unique portrayal of reflective practice in the context of sport coaching. Two interconnected themes emerged: understanding conflict in the coach-parent-athlete relationship and fostering collaboration through enhanced coach–parent communication. Findings and reflections are discussed in relation to the dual-concern model of conflict resolution, and strategies to help practitioners foster cooperative coach–parent relationships are presented.

The authors are with the Faculty of Health, School of Kinesiology and Health Science, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Fraser-Thomas (jft@yorku.ca) is corresponding author.
  • Bean, C.N., Jeffery-Tosoni, S., Baker, J., & Fraser-Thomas, J. (2016). Negative parental behaviour in Canadian youth hockey: Expert insiders’ perceptions and recommendations. Revue phénEPS/PHEnex Journal, 7(3).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Braun, V., Clarke, V., & Weate, P. (2016). Using thematic analysis in sport and exercise research. In B. Smith& A. C. Sparkes (Eds.), Routledge handbook of qualitative research in sport and exercise (pp. 191205). New York, NY: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Camiré, M., Rocchi, M., & Kendellen, K. (2016). Profiling the Canadian high school teacher-coach: A national survey. International Sport Coaching Journal, 3(2), 145155. doi:10.1123/iscj.2015-0110

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Campbell, K., & Parcels, J. (2013). Selling the dream: How hockey parents and their kids are paying the price for our national obsession. Toronto, ON: Penguin Group.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Carpentier, J., & Mageau, G.A. (2013). When change-oriented feedback enhances motivation, well-being and performance: A look at autonomy-supportive feedback in sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 14(3), 423435. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2013.01.003

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Côté, J., & Gilbert, W. (2009). An integrative definition of coaching effectiveness and expertise. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 4(3), 307323. doi:10.1260/174795409789623892

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cropley, B., Miles, A., Hanton, S., & Niven, A. (2007). Improving the delivery of applied sport psychology support through reflective practice. The Sport Psychologist, 21(4), 475494. doi:10.1123/tsp.21.4.475

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cushion, C.J. (2018). Reflection and reflective practice discourses in coaching: A critical analysis. Sport, Education and Society, 23(1), 8294. doi:10.1080/13573322.2016.1142961

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Danish, S., Forneris, T., Hodge, K., & Heke, I. (2004). Enhancing youth development through sport. World Leisure Journal, 46(3), 3849. doi:10.1080/04419057.2004.9674365

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dorsch, T.E., Smith, A.L., Wilson, S.R., & McDonough, M.H. (2015). Parent goals and verbal sideline behaviour in organized youth sport. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 4(1), 1935. doi:10.1037/spy0000025

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dunn, C.R., Dorsch, T.E., King, M.Q., & Rothlisberger, K.J. (2016). The impact of family financial investment on perceived parent pressure and child enjoyment and commitment in organized youth sport. Family Relations, 65(2), 287299. doi:10.1111/fare.12193

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fraser-Thomas, J., & Côté, J. (2009). Understanding adolescents’ positive and negative developmental experiences in sport. The Sport Psychologist, 23(1), 323. doi:10.1123/tsp.23.1.3

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fraser-Thomas, J., & Strachan, L. (2015). Personal development and performance? Exploring positive youth development in elite sport contexts. In J. Baker, J. Fraser-Thomas, & P. Safai (Eds.) Health and elite sport: Is high performance sport a healthy pursuit? (pp. 1532). New York, NY: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gilbert, W.D., & Trudel, P. (2001). Learning to coach through experience: Reflection in model youth sport coaches. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 21(1), 1634. doi:10.1123/jtpe.21.1.16

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gould, D., & Carson, S. (2008). Life skills development through sport: Current status and future directions. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 1(1), 5878. doi:10.1080/17509840701834573

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gould, D., Lauer, L., Rolo, C., Jannes, C., & Pennisi, N. (2008). The role of parents in tennis success: Focus group interviews with junior coaches. The Sport Psychologist, 22(1), 1837. doi:10.1123/tsp.22.1.18

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hall, E.T., & Gray, S. (2016). Reflecting on reflective practice: A coach’s action research narratives. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 8(4), 365379. doi:10.1080/2159676X.2016.1160950

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hanton, S., Cropley, B., Neil, R., Mellalieu, S.D., & Miles, A. (2007). Experience in sport and its relationship with competitive anxiety. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 5(1), 2853. doi:10.1080/1612197X.2008.9671811

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Harwood, C., & Knight, C. (2009a). Stress in youth sport: A developmental investigation of tennis parents. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 10(4), 447456. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2009.01.005

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Harwood, C., & Knight, C. (2009b). Understanding parental stressors: An investigation of British tennis-parents. Journal of Sports Sciences, 27(4), 339351. doi:10.1080/02640410802603871

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Harwood, C.G., & Knight, C.J. (2015). Parenting in youth sport: A position paper on parenting expertise. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 16, 2435. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2014.03.001

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hellstedt, J.C. (1987). The coach/parent/athlete relationship. The Sport Psychologist, 1(2), 151160. doi:10.1123/tsp.1.2.151

  • Heritage Canada. (2013). Sport participation 2010: Research paper. Ottawa, ON, Canada: Canadian Heritage.

  • Holt, N.L., Neely, K.C., Slater, L.G., Camiré, M., Côté, J., Fraser-Thomas, J., … Tamminen, K.A. (2017). A grounded theory of positive youth development through sport based on results from a qualitative meta-study. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 10(1), 149. PubMed ID: 27695511 doi:10.1080/1750984X.2016.1180704

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Holt, N.L., Tamminen, K.A., Black, D.E., Sehn, Z.L., & Wall, M.P. (2008). Parental involvement in competitive youth sport settings. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 9(5), 663685. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2007.08.001

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Holt, N.L., Tamminen, K.A., Tink, L.N., & Black, D.E. (2009). An interpretive analysis of life skills associated with sport participation. Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, 1(2), 160175. doi:10.1080/19398440902909017

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Huntley, E., Cropley, B., Gilbourne, D., Sparkes, A., & Knowles, Z. (2014). Reflecting back and forwards: An evaluation of peer-reviewed reflective practice research in sport. Reflective Practice, 15(6), 863876. doi:10.1080/14623943.2014.969695

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jowett, S., & Timson-Katchis, M. (2005). Social networks in sport: Parental influence on the coach–athlete relationship. The Sport Psychologist, 19(3), 267287. doi:10.1123/tsp.19.3.267

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Knight, C.J., Berrow, S.R., & Harwood, C.G. (2017). Parenting in sport. Current Opinion in Psychology, 16, 9397. PubMed ID: 28813364 doi:10.1016/j.copsyc.2017.03.011

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Knight, C.J., Boden, C.M., & Holt, N.L. (2010). Junior tennis players’ preferences for parental behaviors. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 22(4), 377391. doi:10.1080/10413200.2010.495324

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Knight, C.J., & Harwood, C.G. (2009). Exploring parent-related coaching stressors in British tennis: A developmental investigation. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 4(4), 545565. doi:10.1260/174795409790291448

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Knowles, Z., Gilbourne, D., Borrie, A., & Nevill, A. (2001). Developing the reflective sports coach: A study exploring the processes of reflective practice within a higher education coaching programme. Reflective Practice, 2(2), 185207. doi:10.1080/14623940123820

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Knowles, Z., Katz, J., & Gilbourne, D. (2012). Reflective practice within elite consultancy: Diary extracts and further discussion on a personal and elusive process. The Sport Psychologist, 26(3), 454469. doi:10.1123/tsp.26.3.454

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kovacs, L., & Corrie, S. (2017). Building reflective capability to enhance coaching practice. Coaching Psychologist, 13(1), 412.

  • Larson, R.W. (2000). Toward a psychology of positive youth development. American Psychologist, 55(1), 170183. PubMed ID: 11392861 doi:10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.170

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lauer, L., Gould, D., Roman, N., & Pierce, M. (2010). Parental behaviors that affect junior tennis player development. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 11(6), 487496. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2010.06.008

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lerner, R.M., Almerigi, J.B., Theokas, C., & Lerner, J.V. (2005). Positive youth development. Journal of Early Adolescence, 25(1), 1016. doi:10.1177/0272431604273211

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Miller, C. (2016, September 14). Syracuse.com survey: Parents, you’re driving high school coaches crazy. https://www.syracuse.com

    • Export Citation
  • Preston, C., Allan, V., & Fraser-Thomas, J. (2019). Facilitating positive youth development in elite youth hockey: Exploring coaches’ capabilities, opportunities, and motivations. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/10413200.2019.1648327

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Preston, C., & Fraser-Thomas, J. (2018). Problematizing the pursuit of personal development and performance success: An autoethnography of a Canadian elite youth ice hockey coach. The Sport Psychologist, 32(2), 102113. doi:10.1123/tsp.2016-0099

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pruitt, D.G., & Carnevale, P.J.D. (1993). Negotiation is social conflict. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.

  • Pruitt, D.G., & Rubin, J.Z. (1986). Social conflict. Escalation, stalemate, and settlement. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

  • QuantHockey. (2019). Active NHL players total by nationality—2018–2019 stats. https://www.quanthockey.com/nhl/nationality-totals/active-nhl-players-2018-19-stats.html

    • Export Citation
  • Rhoades, J.A., & Carnevale, P.J. (1999). The behavioral context of strategic choice in negotiation: A test of the dual concern model. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 29(9), 17771802. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.1999.tb00152.x

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ross, A.J., Mallett, C.J., & Parkes, J.F. (2015). The influence of parent sport behaviours on children’s development: Youth coach and administrator perspectives. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 10(4), 605621. doi:10.1260/1747-9541.10.4.605

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schön, D.A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

  • Schultz, K. (2011). Being wrong: Adventures in the margin of error. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

  • Smoll, F.L., Cumming, S.P., & Smith, R.E. (2011). Enhancing coach–parent relationships in youth sports: Increasing harmony and minimizing hassle. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 6(1), 1326. doi:10.1260/1747-9541.6.1.13

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sparkes, A.C., & Smith, B. (2014). Qualitative research methods in sport, exercise, and health: From process to product. London, UK: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 287 286 99
Full Text Views 37 37 17
PDF Downloads 26 26 15