North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity Conference

June 2012, Honolulu, HI, United States of America

Following in their footsteps? Sport expertise and parental participation in sport and physical activity

Melissa J. Hopwood 1, Clare MacMahon 1 & Joseph Baker 2 , Damian Farrow 1,3

1. Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia

2. York University, Toronto, Canada

3. Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Australia

The family has been identified as a critical influence on sport expertise development, with much of the research in this area focusing on the provision of resources and the changing roles of the family throughout athletes' careers. Although associations between parent's and children's participation in physical activity have been explored, little is known about the associations between parent participation in sport and physical activity and the development of sport expertise. As part of a larger investigation of sport expertise development, patterns of participation in sport and physical activity were examined for the parents of 229 athletes from Australia and Canada (mean age = 23.28 ± 4.79) via completion of the Developmental History of Athletes Questionnaire. Athletes represented 36 different sports and three skill levels - non elite, pre elite, and elite. Pearson chi-square tests for independence revealed significant associations between skill level and parental involvement in general fitness activities, recreational sport, and competitive sport, with parents of elite athletes participating in these activities more regularly than parents of non elite athletes. Specifically, involvement of the mother in general fitness activities and recreational sport, and involvement of the father in competitive sport were most strongly associated with athlete skill level. Additionally, parents of elite athletes were also more likely to have competed at the elite levels of competition themselves (χ2(6) = 17.04, p < .01), but not necessarily in the same sport as their child. These results support previous research highlighting the importance of the family for the development of sport expertise, and extend current knowledge in this area by suggesting that parent modelling of physical activity behaviours and parent participation in high performance sport may influence athlete development.

To cite this presentation:

Hopwood, M.J., MacMahon, C., Baker, J., & Farrow, D (2012). Following in their footsteps? Sport expertise and parental participation in sport and physical activity. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 34, S48.

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An investigation of the development of sport expertise

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