The purpose of this article was to examine supportive and/or pressuring influences of parents and coaches on young athletes' maladaptive perfectionist tendencies, relationships to friends, and competency perceptions in soccer. Previous research has revealed that parents and coaches may give rise to both enjoyable and stressful sport experiences for the pediatric athlete and that parents and coaches are thus able to influence whether young people decide to quit sport or continue participating. Less is known about the relation of supportive versus pressuring parental and coach behaviors on the quality of athletes' achievement striving, relationships to friends in sport, and their competence perceptions. Such knowledge may help create a better psychological sport experience for pediatric athletes.
A questionnaire-based cross-sectional field study was carried out among 677 young Norwegian soccer players (aged 10 to 14 years; 504 boys, 173 girls; mean age: boys = 11.9 years, SD = 2.9; girls = 11.2 years, SD = 2.1) taking part in the Norway Cup international youth soccer tournament in 2001. Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) with follow-up canonical correlation was used to examine multivariate relationships between supportive and pressuring behavior and athletes' psychosocial experiences.
Joint pressuring behaviors from parents and coaches related positively to maladaptive achievement striving, as indicated by overconcern for mistakes, doubt about one's soccer actions, and lowered perceptions of soccer competence. Mirroring these findings, predominantly supportive coach-created psychological climates were related to a linear pattern of psychological outcomes comprising high-quality friendships, positive competency perceptions, and the absence of specific worries related to achievement striving.
Supportive, mastery-oriented coach influence seems beneficial for constructive psychosocial outcomes in pediatric athletes, and athletes experiencing a joint social pressure to excel from coaches and parents may benefit less psychosocially through sport.
From the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway.
Reprints: Yngvar Ommundsen, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, P.O. Box 4014, U.S. N-0806 Oslo, Norway (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).