The Coach–Athlete–Parent Relationship: The Importance of the Sex, Sport Type, and Family Composition



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Interpersonal relationships exist in many forms within the sport environment. Athlete performance and career direction, at times, depend on their formed sport relationships. Positive and negative interpersonal relationships among the coach, the athlete, and the parent affects many athletes’ behavioral outcomes, such as continued participation. Our research aimed to understand whether the positive and negative processes in the coach, athlete, and parent interpersonal relationships depend on athletes’ sex, age, family composition, sport experience, and the type of sport. To achieve our research purpose, 632 volunteer student-athletes (aged 11–19) completed our survey. Our survey included the Positive and Negative Processes in the Coach–Athlete–Parent (PNPCAP) relationship scale and demographics (i.e., sex, age, family composition, years in competitive sport, and sport type). The study results revealed that positive processes, as measured by the positive PNPCAP subscale, were invariant to our categorical variables. However, participants’ self-ratings of negative PNPCAP-measured processes depended upon sex, sport type, and family makeup. Significant (p < 0.05) two-way interactions revealed boys involved in individual sports and residing without their parents or with one self-reported a higher level of the negative processes. The calculated effect size values with the other groupings were mostly medium in magnitude. The third significant two-way interaction resulted for sport type by family makeup. This two-way interaction revealed individual sport participants without or residing with one parent reported higher levels of negative processes. The effect size values were a mix of small and medium in meaningfulness. In conclusion, while positive Coach–Athlete–Parent processes appear invariant to our measured categorical variables, sex, sport type, and family makeup moderated the negative processes. Further research, such as mixed methods, is required to best understand and provide direction for intervention research to reduce negative processes in youth sport.


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coaching, interpersonal relationships, parenting, psychological development, youth sport


Lisinskiene, A., & Lochbaum, M.. 2022. The Coach–Athlete–Parent Relationship: The Importance of the Sex, Sport Type, and Family Composition. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(8).