Often, the parents you find shouting and screaming from the sidelines are pretty set on their kid becoming a sports star. But my parents were the opposite. My dad played football until he was about 19 or 20 and liked his athletics, but he was never obsessive about it. And my mum, she played netball into her 30s – always competitively, but only at a local level. They knew what it was to play competitively themselves, but it was never an expectation they put on me.
In my experience, the kids with the pushy parents are generally the kids that’ll stop playing sport in their teenage years. Part of the reason usually comes down to the fact they haven’t been given the space to decide if they’re playing sport because they want to or because their parents want them to.
And that’s because intrinsic motivation is so important for people to succeed in sport. Kids need space to find their own drive for it and if they’re forced to play, it’s so counter-productive in the long term.
Obviously, there are always exceptions to the rule, but on the whole, you don’t see athletes excelling because they’re trying to please others. So in a strange way what tends to happen is that overbearing parents end up killing the very thing they wanted through their own behaviour.