Parents And Coaches Express Conflicting Opinions Regarding Priorities In Youth Sports

New Survey from Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports Reveals Contrasting Views on Wide Range of Topics, including Competitiveness, Parental Involvement and Concussions

Sep 18, 2013, 07:00 ET from Liberty Mutual Insurance

BOSTON, Sept. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As children all across the country return to school and the fall sports season gets underway, parents and youth sports coaches return to the sidelines as well.  At the same time, a new survey of 1,000 youth sports parents and 501 youth sports coaches by Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports uncovered interesting findings that suggest parents and coaches may be on a different playing field when it comes to priorities about competitiveness, parent involvement, responsible sideline behavior and safety concerns.

Among the key findings, 77 percent of parents place a high importance on their child's coach to be a caring individual versus only 59 percent who place the same importance on the coach being skilled in that sport.  And yet, one-third of coaches (36 percent) say they have experienced problems with parents' unreasonable expectations regarding winning – despite three in four parents saying a primary reason they enrolled their child in youth sports was simply to have fun.

"Competitiveness at the youth sports level is an important life lesson learned on the playing field but is often misinterpreted to have a 'win-at-all-costs' mentality," said Picabo Street, a two-time Olympic medalist in alpine skiing, youth sports parent, and Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports ambassador.  "Healthy competition – which includes learning from losses as much as learning from wins – is essential, and should be balanced with skill building and simply having fun to ensure a positive youth sports experience."

Interestingly, coaches at each of the three youth sports levels – elementary school, middle school, and high school – felt competitiveness in youth sports was more important than parents in the respective age groups (see graph).

Among the other key Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports survey results:

Setting the Right Example – Among the biggest concerns cited by youth sports coaches about parents is sideline behavior.  Many coaches report that negative yelling by parents directed at players, officials and them by parents is commonplace.

Percent of Coaches Who Report Parents Yell Negative Things to Others from the Sidelines

At Their Own Children


At Officials


At Other Children 


At Coaches


Getting Involved – Another contrast between parents' and coaches' perspectives surrounds parental involvement.

  • While nine out of 10 parents claim to be involved by attending practices and games, nearly half (46 percent) of coaches say they experience problems with parents' lack of involvement.  As a reminder to parents, there are numerous ways to become involved with a child's sports team at varying levels of commitment, including assistant coaching, attending practices and games, bringing snacks to practice and driving carpools.

Concern About ConcussionsConcussions are a top injury concern among youth sports parents, with an increasing level of worry as the child ages from elementary school to high school.  Yet, this concern isn't necessarily factoring into participation decisions or discussions.

  • While 82 percent of parents say they are concerned about the risk of concussions as a result of participating in youth sports, 47 percent say that fear factored into the decision over which sport their child would play.
  • Youth athletes are far more likely to raise a concern about concussions with their coach (35 percent) than their parents (12 percent).
  • Parents of high school-aged athletes are more likely to discuss the dangers of concussions with their child (77 percent) than are parents of middle school children (68 percent) and elementary school children (53 percent).

"These findings accentuate the disconnect some parents and coaches have about the role youth sports should play in developing our children into responsible community members," said James MacPhee, senior vice president & Chief Marketing Officer at Liberty Mutual Insurance.  "It also validates the need for our Responsible Sports program, which provides a great toolkit for parents and coaches to help ensure a positive, rewarding experience for all."

More results from the survey, as well as the wide range of resources, tools and information that Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports offers to support youth sports parents and coaches who help children succeed both on and off the field, can be found at  Parents and coaches can join the conversation by visiting the Responsible Sports Facebook page. 

More Programs from Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports

The "Responsible Sports Community Grant" program was created in 2007 to give youth sports teams, clubs and school sports programs the chance to earn funds by rallying their communities to celebrate sportsmanship and a Responsible Sports environment.  Twice a year, the Responsible Sports Community Grant program rewards the organizations who demonstrate their commitment to responsibility, sportsmanship and teamwork with a $2,500 grant.

Additionally, now in its third year, the "Top 10 Responsible Sports Moments" of 2013 seeks to identify and applaud acts of sportsmanship, selflessness, integrity, fairness and honesty from youth sports fields, rinks, courts, mats and pools around the country.  The Top 10 winners each earn their organization a $1,000 charitable donation from Liberty Mutual Insurance. 

Schools and organizations can register for this Fall's Responsible Sports Community Grant program; and parents and coaches can nominate a positive act of sportsmanship and selflessness as a Top 10 Responsible Sports Moment at

About the Study

As a leading resource in youth sports, Liberty Mutual Responsible Sports program commissioned Braun Research to conduct a national survey to uncover trends in both parents and youth coaches' perceptions in the youth sports category. 1,000 parents of 7-17 year olds who participate in organized youth sports participated in the survey, resulting in a margin of error +/- 3.1%. 501 youth sports coaches participated in the survey, resulting in a margin of error of +/- 4.4%.

About Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports

At Liberty Mutual Insurance, we constantly look for ways to celebrate the countless acts of responsibility shown by people every day who take personal ownership in ensuring positive outcomes in life.  In 2007, we created Responsible Sports as a part of this belief, to help ensure that our kids experience the best that sports have to offer in environments that promote and display responsibility.  We believe kids can learn valuable life lessons when Responsible Coaches and Responsible Sports Parents come together to support winning both on and off the field.

Liberty Mutual Responsible Sports is a community-based program providing resources, tools, tips and advice for volunteer youth sport coaches and sport parents.  Powered by Positive Coaching Alliance,  the Responsible Sports program offers parents and coaches constructive tips, expert advice and practical examples to help create a positive sports environment for children.  Liberty Mutual also has provided more than $500,000 in grants to youth sports teams, organizations and schools for community participation in the online Responsible Sports curriculum.  Liberty Mutual is proud to support youth sports organizations, including ASA Softball, US Youth Soccer, USA Hockey, USA Softball, USA Volleyball, USA Water Polo, and USA Wrestling.  To access the Responsible Sports resources, see previous Responsible Sports grant winners, and register your league or school for the Responsible Sports grant program, visit

About Liberty Mutual Insurance

"Helping people live safer, more secure lives" since 1912, Boston-based Liberty Mutual Insurance is a diversified global insurer and the third largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. based on 2012 direct premiums written as reported by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.  Liberty Mutual Insurance also ranks 81st on the Fortune 100 list of largest U.S. corporations, based on 2012 revenue.  The company employs over 50,000 people in approximately 900 offices throughout the world.

The sixth-largest auto and home insurer in the U.S., Liberty Mutual ( sells full lines of coverage for automobile, homeowners, valuable possessions, personal liability, and individual life insurance.  The company is an industry leader in affinity partnerships, offering car and home insurance to employees and members of more than 14,000 companies, credit unions, professional associations and alumni groups.

Liberty Mutual Insurance is the Official Property and Casualty and Life Insurance Partner of the 2014 and 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams.  Liberty Seguros (Brazil) is a National Supporter and Official Insurer of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2013 FIFA Confederation Cup, both of which will be held in Brazil.


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