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Stress in youth sport: a developmental investigation of tennis parents

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journal contribution
posted on 16.07.2014, 10:52 by Chris Harwood, Camilla J. Knight
Objective: This study investigated the stage-specific stressors experienced by British tennis parents whose children were situated either in the sampling, specializing or investment stages of participation in the sport [Côtè, J. (1999). The influence of the family in the development of talent in sport. The Sport Psychologist, 13, 395–417]. Design and method: A qualitative design was employed with semi-structured interviews conducted with twenty two British tennis parents; six parents representing each of the first two stages of sports participation and ten representing the investment stage. Data was analyzed through a process of inductive content analysis following the method proposed by Miles and Huberman [Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis. London: Sage]. Data matrices were developed for each category of parent to allow for the comparison of the data between themes. Results and conclusion: Three general dimensions of parental stressor emerged: Organizational, Competitive and Developmental. Organizational stressors included demands related to finance, time, training and coaching, and governing body systems; competitive stressors related to behavior, performance and morality-related issues associated with their child’s matches; and developmental stressors centered on educational issues, uncertainty of tennis transitions, and future decision making. While sampling stage parents encountered few developmental stressors compared to later stage parents, a range of competitive stressors were highly prominent. Organizational stressors were particularly foremost for specializing and investment stage parents. Implications are discussed with reference to further research into the parental stress process and to the importance of stage-specific parent education initiatives.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

Psychology of Sport and Exercise






447 - 456


HARWOOD, C.G. and KNIGHT, C.J., 2009. Stress in youth sport: a developmental investigation of tennis parents. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 10 (4), pp.447-456.


© Elsevier


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publication date



This article was published in the journal, Psychology of Sport and Exercise [© Elsevier] and the definitive version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2009.01.005