Youth sport participation and parental mental health

Publication Name

Psychology of Sport and Exercise


Objectives: The purpose of this exploratory study was to investigate the relations of having a child involved in youth sport and primary (i.e., parent that knows the child best) and secondary parents' mental health. Design: Parents from Wave 7 of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children reported their child's involvement in organised youth sport and self-reported measures of mental health. A total of 3192 primary (M = 43.04 years, SD = 8.75), and 2794 secondary (M = 46.13 years, SD = 6.16) parents of adolescent children were enrolled in the study. To investigate differences by type of sport participation, sport participation was grouped into one of four categories: non-participation; individual sport only; team sport only; both team and individual sport. Measures of days per week and hours per day of participation were also used to examine the relationship between sport participation and parental mental health. Results: Parents with adolescents involved in organised sport reported more life stress, more time pressure, and less psychological distress than parents of non-athletes. Stronger effects appeared in primary parents in comparison to secondary parents. Conclusion: The findings suggest an important relationship with respect to having a child involved in organised sport and parents' mental health. We encourage future scholars to explore potential protective mechanisms' (e.g., opportunities to socialise) of having a child in youth sport for the benefit of parents' mental health.

Open Access Status

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Article Number


Funding Sponsor

Australian Institute of Family Studies



Link to publisher version (DOI)