Parenting experiences in elite youth football- A phenomenological study 27-03-14 final.pdf (90.4 kB)
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Parenting experiences in elite youth football: a phenomenological study

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journal contribution
posted on 16.03.2015, 15:51 by Nicola J. Clarke, Chris HarwoodChris Harwood
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of parents of elite specializing stage youth footballers. Design: A descriptive phenomenological approach guided the study design. Methods: Data from interviews with five mothers and five fathers of youth players registered to English football academies were analysed using descriptive phenomenological analysis (Giorgi, 2009). Results: Three essences characterized the phenomenon of being a parent of an elite youth footballer: parent socialization into elite youth football culture; enhanced parental identity; and increased parental responsibility. Parents' socialization into the football academy culture was facilitated by their interaction with coaches and parent peers, highlighting the social nature of parenting. Being the parent of a child identified as talented meant that parents experienced enhanced status and a heightened responsibility to facilitate his development. Although parents were compelled to support their son in football, their instinct to protect their child meant they experienced uncertainty regarding the commitment required to play at an academy, given the potential for negative consequences. Together, these findings illustrate that parents experienced a transition as their son progressed into the specialization stage of football. We postulate that formal recognition of a child as talented contributed to this transition, and that knowledge of sport and perception of the parentechild relationship shaped how parents adapted. Conclusions: This study provides a new way of understanding the psychological phenomena of parenting in elite youth football. Implications for practitioners working with parents in sport are provided.


This research was supported by the English Football Association as part of its Psychology for Football research strategy.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

Psychology of Sport and Exercise






528 - 537


CLARKE, N.J. and HARWOOD, C.G., 2014. Parenting experiences in elite youth football: a phenomenological study. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 15 (5), pp.528-537.


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