Australian Parents' Perceptions of the Issues Faced by their Adolescent High Performance Sports Children in Balancing School and Sport

By Maureen O'Neill, Angela Calder and Bill Allen.

Published by Journal of Sports Pedagogy and Physical Education

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: July 6, 2015 $US5.00

The daily pressures faced by high-performance athletes who are still at school and juggling two full-time workloads are observed firsthand by their parents. As part of a larger study involving a 360o view of this issue, 19 athletes, 10 teachers, and 10 parents of Australian secondary school high-performance athletes were interviewed. This study reports on the parents' perspectives. Nine mothers and one father were interviewed about their views of the issues faced by their child in juggling commitments to both school and sport. Children of these parents performed at national or international levels in sport and attended either a non-government or government Australian secondary school. Interviews were recorded with a Livescribe™ pen and data was analysed with NVivo 10SP6TM to reveal themes of parental concerns. The most important issues that all parents identified were related to sibling relationships, physical demands faced by their child, financial sacrifices, and the pushy parent. A comparison of these findings with our previously published data from 19 Australian high-performance school-age athletes revealed some similarities and some differences between the perceptions of parents and athletes. Common issues identified by both groups related to physical stresses, financial sacrifices, and over the top parents. However, issues emphasised strongly by athletes but noted only minimally or not identified at all by parents included problems for the athletes with bullying at school, a reduced social life, management problems with schoolwork, and exposure to alcohol and drug-taking situations. Sibling rivalry and conflict were issues noted by all nine mothers but not reported as an issue by athletes. These different perceptions highlight areas that may reflect their relative importance to athletes and parents and this may have an impact on the effectiveness of the support parents provide for their child. Recommendations from this study include raising awareness of the athlete’s different views with parents and reinforcing the monitoring strategies parents can use to complement those used by coaches and teachers to gain a more comprehensive approach to assessing their child’s adaptation to stress.

Keywords: High-performance Athletes, School-age Athletes, Parents' Views

Journal of Sports Pedagogy and Physical Education, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.1-12. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: July 6, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 479.763KB)).

Dr. Maureen O'Neill

Researcher and Lecturer, School of Education and Office of Research and Education, Australian Catholic University and The University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Queensland, Australia

Angela Calder

Lecturer, Sport Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Queensland, Australia

Dr Bill Allen

Senior Lecturer of Education, School of Education, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Queensland, Australia