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Title: Parental stress and coping in elite youth gymnastics
Author: Burgess, Naomi Sian
ISNI:       0000 0004 7425 4951
Awarding Body: Swansea University
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2015
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The importance of parental involvement in youth sport is well established. Parents can enhance their children's sporting experiences by providing emotional, tangible, and informational support. Some understanding exists regarding the competition, organisational, and developmental stressors that parents encounter while providing such support. However, the strategies that parents employ to cope with these demands have not been examined. This study sought to understand how parents of elite youth gymnasts cope with the stressors they experience in relation to their children's sporting involvement. Interpretive phenomenological analysis (Smith, 1996) was employed to facilitate an in-depth exploration of parents' experiences. Seven parents of national or international level gymnasts in mid-late adolescence participated in 1 or 2 semistructured interviews. Iterative and inductive data analysis cycles produced themes that reflected parents' experiences and the researcher's interpretations of the parents' accounts. Parents experienced a range of organisational, competitive, and developmental stressors including financial demands, watching their children compete, and child schooling. Parents employed numerous strategies to cope with such stressors. These strategies were organised into 4 themes: (a) detaching from gymnastics, (b) normalising experiences, (c) willingness to learn, and (d) managing emotional reactions. Parents detached by sharing parenting responsibilities, recognising their children's coping abilities, and maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Parents normalised experiences by recalling past experiences and comparing their experiences to others'. Parents learned how to cope effectively with the help of others and by reflecting on their past experiences. Emotional release, self-talk, and avoidance were employed to manage emotions. Parents suggested that increased informational and improved existing support from the sport governing body would improve their coping efforts. Overall, the findings suggest that parents in sport may not experience as much strain as previous studies imply. However, parents do encounter a variety of stressors and employ several strategies in their attempts to cope with these stressors.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available