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Mother and baby in outdoor swimming pool of tropical resort.

Parents and guardians have significant influence on their children’s sporting experiences, as well as broader sport culture. As such, their decisions can have long-lasting impacts on their children’s sport enjoyment, performance and long-term participation. Parents must decide when to start or end a child’s participation in a sport program, how many sports to do at one time and which sports and programs to choose. However, we don’t know much about how parents make these decisions and what factors influence them.

In this article, Heather Larson presents her recent research on parental decision-making in youth sport (Larson et al., 2022) and offers practical takeaways for parents, coaches and sport organizations.