Engaging with parents

This collection has been created by theathleteplace, the place to go for athlete-parent information and guidance. Head to their website to find out how they can help your club and its parents.

It’s important for clubs to acknowledge that parents play a key role in a young athlete’s sporting journey. Engaging with them is, therefore, essential if the club is to provide a successful and vibrant youth section. Whilst some parents will have no desire to get involved, others will be keen but may see the prospect as daunting. Initially, many will assume a passive role, being there to simply observe. Engaging with your club’s parents is a fundamental way of ensuring a friendly and inclusive environment, where parents are more likely to join in.

Most parents want to support their athlete but have limited knowledge of how to do this, especially regarding training and competitions. By engaging with them, clubs can provide this information. As well as being better placed to support their athlete, invested, and knowledgable parents are also more likely to become involved within the club itself.  Parental engagement is, therefore, a sound investment from a club perspective.


  • Creates a friendlier, more welcoming club
  • Can help parents learn how to support their athlete
  • Can inform parents of opportunities to become involved witin the lcub
  • Increased parent satisfaction can result in a more positive club environment and, importantly, greater athlete retention

Key Ideas

  • Engaging in friendly conversations with parents and getting to know them and their athlete generates a feeling of belonging. Encourage committee members, coaches, and officials to actively integrate with parents to avoid an inadvertent us
    and them environment that alienates them.

  • Encourage them to become more involved in their child’s athletics journey. Make this easy for them by ensuring that coaches are approachable and make time to discuss individual athlete’s needs/progress. Show parents that their athlete matters and isn’t just a number. Treat them as part of the team. Let them contribute.

  • Help them learn more about the event/sport and how best to support their athlete. Organise occassional ‘athlete-parenting’ talks to convey this useful advice (holding these whilst athletes are training will result in greater attendance).

  • Invite them to get involved within the club. Make this easy for them. Asking them to help out at club open events can be an easy introduction. Find ways to dispel the myth that helping out is for more capable, experienced others. Everyone has
    to start somewhere.

  • Advertise the England Athletics courses to your parents. Make entry level coaching courses as accessible and parent-friendly as possible, ie. consider location, cost, timing.

  • Provide an environment where parents will feel more confident and comfortable volunteering. Many parents will not be aware that clubs genuinely appreciate, and indeed need, help from volunteers like them. Advertise this fact!


Yes No
Does your club have someone whose role it is to welcome new parents and ‘show them the ropes’?
Great. New parents will gain a good first impression of your club, will feel welcomed and will, ultimately, be more likely to actively engage.
This risks new parents feeling unwelcomed and like ‘outsiders’. Assigning a member to this role to actively welcome new parents is a sound all round investment that will positively impact athletes, parents, and your club.
Does your club provide a parent-friendly environment?
Great. Creating a positive environment where parents feel they belong results in a healthy, friendly club, where parents will be happy to get involved.
If parents don’t want to hang around, athlete retention will become a problem, ultimately impacting your club and its reputation.
Does your club provide opportunities for parents to interact with each other?
Great. By making it easy for parents to interact and form new friendships you’re actively creating a community. Clubs with a community-feel thrive.
Social events that aren’t entirely sport-focused, e.g. end-of-season BBQs or seasonal gatherings, provide environments where parents can easily interact with each other, often resulting in new friendships. These are also great ways to encourage integration between parents, committee members, coaches, officials etc.
Does your club actively seek to avoid an unhelpful us and them environment that distances committee members, coaches, and officials from parents?
Great. By fully integrating with parents, your committee members, coaches, and officials create an equal playing field where all parties are on the same team. Make sure that you are looking at this in an unbiased way and are genuinely considering parents.
Us and them environments can be extremely detrimental to the enjoyment of both parents and their athletes. Your club’s reputation could also be seriously harmed. Actively seek to identify and avoid committee cliques.
Does your club make it easy for parents to interact with coaches before and after training sessions?
Great. This can help parents feel more involved in their athlete’s journey resulting in greater parental support. Young athletes also benefit from seeing positive parent-coach interactions that demonstrate everyone is on-side.
Parents won’t know how they can support their athlete unless coaches make time to interact. This also risks an us and them environment. Coaches should understand that parents are key players in an athlete’s journey, i.e. it’s not exclusive to coach and athlete.
Does your club provide signposting towards athlete-parent information and guidance?
Great. These parents will be better informed and, therefore, better able to support their young athletes. Consider: Information created exclusively by your own club may not be fully representative, it’s therefore important to provide information that come from a variety of sources. Remember, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to athlete parenting!
It’s important your club acknowledges the essential role parents play in a young athlete’s journey. Without information and guidance, parents cannot provide the valuable practical and emotional support that leads to improved enjoyment and performance.
Can your club create new ways to provide information and guidance for parents?
Great. Providing additional parental information and guidance illustrates that your club is going the extra mile to support its athletes. Your club will reap the benefits with informed, actively involved parents, a great club environment, and improved athlete performances too.
If your club has limited opportunities and resources, theathleteplace Parent Hub provides information and guidance for athlete-parents, all in one place.
Can you identify ways in which your club can improve parental engagement in general?
Acknowledging areas that can be improved demonstrates an awareness of this important topic. Acting on these observations is the next step towards providing a better club experience for both athletes and parents.
Imagine yourself as the parent: Would you feel welcome? Would you feel‘part of the team’? Would you feel involved in your athlete’s journey or more like an outsider looking in? Would you feel informed and know how you can support your athlete? By actively addressing each of these areas, your club is providing an optimal environment for enjoyment and achievement, for everyone.

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