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Parental stress and coping in elite youth gymnastics: An interpretive phenomenological analysis
Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Swansea University Author: Camilla Knight
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Parents are essential in youth sport because they provide the emotional, informational, and financial support that enables their children to enjoy and succeed in their sporting endeavours. When providing such support, however, parents can experience a range of stressors from organisational, competit...
|Published in:||Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health|
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Parents are essential in youth sport because they provide the emotional, informational, and financial support that enables their children to enjoy and succeed in their sporting endeavours. When providing such support, however, parents can experience a range of stressors from organisational, competitive, and developmental sources. This study sought to understand how parents of elite youth gymnasts cope within youth sport. Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to facilitate an in-depth exploration of parents’ experiences. Seven parents of national and international level gymnasts aged 11–14 years participated in semi-structured interviews and data were analysed according to the guidelines set out by IPA. The results suggest that parents face numerous organisational, competitive, and developmental stressors in youth gymnastics including time and travel demands, child’s competition nerves, schooling, finances, and injury. Parents employed four categories of coping to manage these stressors: (a) detaching from gymnastics (e.g. by sharing parental tasks, relying on their children to cope, and maintaining balanced lifestyles); (b) normalising experiences (e.g. by recalling and comparing experiences); (c) willingness to learn (e.g. from others and from their own past experiences); and (d) managing emotional reactions (e.g. through emotional release, self-talk, distraction, and avoidance strategies). The findings suggest that parents’ stress experiences are dynamic and complex, with parents utilising different coping strategies to manage different stressors in different situations.
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