WHY DO CHILDREN PARTICIPATE IN GYMNASTICS AND HOW DO PARENTS INFLUENCE THEIR CHILDREN’S GYMNASTIC FUTURE?
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The purpose of this study was to identify the positive and negative influence that parents have on their children in gymnastics. The study was split into four sections with specific aims related to each. The first aim determined why parents place their children into gymnastics instead of an alternate sport and what the associated benefits of gymnastics are. The second aspect illustrated the ways in which parents can best support their child in gymnastics and Hellstedt‟s (1987) categorisation of parents: The over-involved, the moderately involved and under involved parent. The consequence of too much pressure was thirdly identified and how this can affect the child and ultimately the gymnastics. Finally, the influence parents can have in a positive and negative way on the coach-athlete relationship, the parent-child relationship and the parent-coach relationship, all of which are necessary for the competitive gymnast. Interviews and focus groups were conducted to determine the influence parents have in gymnastics. The participants included interviews with six women‟s artistic coaches and focus groups with five parents that have children in gymnastics and four gymnasts that are currently competing in gymnastics. It was specified that gymnastics is a popular sport for children to participate within because of aspects such as increased confidence, discipline, focus and a thorough physical foundation which can be progressed to another sport in the future. It was agreed that parental support is vital to athletic development and optimal level of parental support is of a moderate involvement. This means the parent has the balance of interest and support for their child but it does not implicate the development by placing too much pressure on their child. In addition, it was suggested that those overly involved parents had a detrimental effect on their child and it affected all aspects of gymnastics, placing stress on the athlete–parent–coach triad. However, it has to be noted that the over-involved parent was in the minority and the theories and suggestions specified within the study do vary depending on each individual athlete, coach and parent.
- Masters Degrees (Sport) 
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