Exploring sport parents' emotion abilities


Youth sport researchers and stakeholders have made it a priority to promote high-quality parental involvement that increases children's chances at having positive psychosocial experiences in sport. A key component of high-quality parental involvement is parents' ability to manage the complex emotional demands of youth sport (Harwood & Knight, 2015). Previous research indicates that parents with certain emotion skills or abilities may be more equipped to manage the demands they face. As such, the overall purpose of this study was to explore sport parents' emotion abilities, using Mayer and Salovey's (1997) model of emotional intelligence (EI) as a guiding framework. Specifically, we were interested in how parents identify and express, use, understand, and manage emotions in relation to their children's sport participation. Focus groups were conducted with 10 sport parents and six former youth athletes. Participants were asked questions related to Mayer and Salovey's emotion abilities, such as "How do you know when your child is upset?" (identifying emotions) and "How did your parents react after you won?" (expressing emotions). The data generated were analyzed using Miles and colleagues' (2020) approach to qualitative data analysis. The findings are represented through three themes: Emotions as a shared experience, provision of emotional support, and managing their own emotions. The findings are contextualized within Mayer and Salovey's (1997) model of EI and recommendations for the development of education initiatives to enhance sport parents' emotion abilities are discussed.