A mother and her son practice on an ice pad adjacent to outdoor shinny hockey action on a lake.

The parent’s role in the sport experience can be one of support and guidance for the athlete’s benefit. The following are recommendations for parents to help ensure positive sport experiences for their children:

  • Understand the child’s sport pathway and recognize where they stand in terms of age and development.
  • Encourage sport sampling, in which the child plays several different sports up to age 12, at minimum, to help enhance physical literacy and to be sure they find sports they enjoy.
  • Encourage multi-sport/activity and cross-training to keep the child from burning out or developing overuse injuries.
  • Reward the child for sport development and proficiency over performance outcomes and winning.
  • Enroll child in age-appropriate activities to ensure healthy progression and skill development before advancing to a heavy volume of competition.
  • Monitor the dose and duration the child is playing each week and encourage rest and recovery.
  • Ask for feedback from coaches and administrators on the child’s development and maintain interest in the child’s experience over performance outcomes.
  • Support and encourage the child to have fun, keeping their needs at the forefront.

Team USA Parent Youth Sport Resources


Getting kids off the couch and into the game
What to aim for in youth programs
First steps in building an athlete for life