Parental Involvement in Youth Sports and Activities

Engaging in sports and extracurricular activities offers opportunities for your child(ren) to have fun, learn healthy habits, build developmental skills, and develop social ties with adults and peers in your community. From an early age, you may want your child(ren) to participate in various leagues, teams, and/or clubs as you seek to determine their interests. However, when your child(ren) is(are) engaged in multiple sports and activities, you may have to get creative in determining your level of involvement with each activity. Consider how you will support your child(ren)’s interests while carving out time for other events and activities (e.g., your personal hobbies, family time, work commitments). Building structure into your routine can help you and your child(ren) thrive. The information below can help you explore ways your family can benefit from engaging in sports and activities. The information can also guide you as you develop and implement actionable steps to incorporate time-management strategies into your family’s busy schedule.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Is the activity developmentally appropriate for your child(ren)? Ensure your child(ren) has(have) developed the physical, mental, and social skills to participate in the activity. Your child(ren) may not be ready for organized sports and activities until they are about 6 years old (, 2019).

How well does(do) your child(ren) manage their regular responsibilities? Consider the impact of sports and extracurricular activities on your child(ren)’s homework time, household responsibilities, and other commitments.

How involved does(do) your child(ren) want to be in the sport or activity? Learn your child(ren)’s interests by communicating openly with them and observing their behaviors. This will help you understand their motivation to participate in each sport or activity.

How much time are you willing to invest? Ask the organizer(s) and other parents about expectations for the sport or activity. For example, many youth sports and activities require parents to serve as coaches or provide snacks. You may also be required to attend all practices, games, and performances.

How flexible is your personal schedule? Consider your day-to-day life, and determine how your work responsibilities, errands, and/or household tasks could impact your ability to support your child(ren)’s sports and activities.

Who will transport your child(ren) to and from practices, games, and performances? Devise a plan with your coparent, if applicable, or with the other members of your support network. Perhaps the parents of your child’s teammates would be willing to share transportation responsibilities with you, especially if you experience a scheduling conflict.

Have you explored the activity’s associated costs? Review your budget to determine if you can afford the associated and necessary fees and equipment.

How will your child(ren)’s free time or rest/leisure time with friends and family be impacted? Know your limits and your child(ren)’s limits, and prioritize your family. For example, you may decide that it is necessary to allow your child(ren) to miss practice sometimes. Be sure to observe your child(ren)’s behavior(s) for signs of burnout such as decreased interest or enthusiasm. If your child(ren) exhibit(s) imminent or present burnout, it may be time to reevaluate their participation (Brenner & Watson, 2024).

What will the effect be on your family’s plans for vacations and other family endeavors? Having quality time as a family is important to strengthen relationships between family members. Schedule time, at home and away from home, to connect with your family. Do your best to honor the time dedicated to being together. Discuss, as a family, if an important event or activity interferes with your planned family time, and decide on a solution.

Tips for Being a Supportive and Involved Parent

  • Diversify your child(ren)’s options for sports and activities when/if possible.
  • Communicate openly with and actively listen to your child(ren).
  • Allow your children to gravitate to the sports and/or activities of their choice, and follow their lead when they show preference(s).
  • Lead by example, and show respect to your child(ren)’s coaches and instructors. In doing so, your child(ren) will learn how to appropriately engage in their chosen sport and/or activity.
  • Avoid criticism or blame with regard to your child(ren)’s abilities and/or performance, and help your child(ren) learn from mistakes or losses.
  • Help your child(ren) build skills, and do not focus on wins and losses.
  • Refrain from pushing your child(ren) beyond their capabilities and expecting perfection.
  • Resist the urge to relive your “glory days” or your aspirations through your child(ren).

Tips for Managing Your Family’s Time and Schedules

  • Develop ground rules and expectations as a family (e.g., seasonal activities, transportation, practices).
  • Outline estimated times for each family member’s activities (e.g., homework, practice, chores).
  • Create a shared family calendar or master schedule.
  • Determine which games or performances are important to your child(ren), and ensure those instances are prioritized.
  • Decide, as a family, which family and/or community activities are important to you (e.g., family vacations, worship services, charitable events), and prioritize them.
  • Develop “rules” for adding new activities to the schedule, and commit to them.
  • Be intentional about scheduling rest and downtime for you and your child(ren).
  • Pay attention to your child(ren)’s behavior(s), and set limits as needed.
  • Share the load with other parents (e.g., snacks, carpool), and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • “Tag-team” and split responsibilities with your coparenting partner if applicable.
  • Store equipment in a consistent location (e.g., tote, shelf) to minimize or avoid the stress associated with attempting to find equipment at the last minute.
  • Develop a plan for meals and snacks that your child(ren) may require between practices and performances.


Anzilotti, A. W. (2019, February). Signing kids up for sports. Nemours KidsHealth.

Borelli, S. (2024, February 6). 70% of kids drop out of youth sports by age 13. Here’s why and how to fix it, per AAP. USA Today.  

Brenner, J. S., & Watson, D. (2024, January 22). Burnout in young athletes: How to keep the fun in sports.  

Folsom, J. (2020, January 2). Your kid isn’t going pro: The working mom’s sanity check on youth sports. MSNBC.  

Gavin, M. L. (2021, January). Fitness for kids who don’t like sports. Nemours KidsHealth.  

Greater Philadelphia YMCA. (2023, September 27). How to choose a youth sport for your child. (2019, October 8). Is your child ready for sports? (2020, December 30). 11 ways to encourage your child to be physically active.  

National Academy of Athletics. (n.d.). Parent’s role in youth sports.  

Porter, K. (2003). Do’s and don’ts for parents of young athletes. Association of Applied Sports Psychology.  

Stricker, P. R. (2019, May 20). Parenting an athlete.  

U.S. All-Star Federation. (2021, September 27). Back to school and sports: Time management for parents and young athletes.  

YMCA of Greater Brandywine. (n.d.). 10 ways to be a great youth sports parent.  

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