The Family Behind the Athlete

Pinchbeck, Jessica (2022). The Family Behind the Athlete. In: Heaney, Caroline; Kentzer, Nichola and Oakley, Ben eds. Athletic Development: A Psychological Perspective. New York: Routledge, pp. 141–162.



This chapter explores a range of family influences from a psycho-social perspective, combining psychological factors and the social environment to explain thoughts and behaviours. It looks at the way parental attachments may shape athletic development, the influence of siblings, and the changing requirements of parental and family influence throughout an athlete’s journey through sport. Socialisation into sport focuses on the influences that encourage a child to be initially attracted to sport, although this involves more than simply taking children to as many different activities as possible. The model proposes that the two most important factors that determine an individual’s choice behaviours are their expectations for success and the value of the task. Parents provide experiences by enrolling in, paying for, and transporting their children to and from sporting activities. Children are thus more likely to be involved in sport when family members are also involved.

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