Positivity and Encouragement Most Effective Way to Reach Youth Athletes

Positivity and Encouragement Most Effective Way to Reach Youth Athletes


Parents concerned with increased pressure in sports today



Bowling Green, Ky. (August 24, 2017) – Russell Athletic®, in partnership with Positive Coaching Alliance, Little League®, and Fatherly, released survey results[i] today showing that parents and coaches both believe encouragement is still the top principle of coaching youth sports, despite increased pressure and societal challenges from club and competitive sports.

A positive approach to sports and the power of sportsmanship are principals that Little League, Positive Coaching Alliance and Russell Athletic® firmly believe. Society challenges this with an ‘always win’ mindset through club and competitive sports that can be seen as conduits in the trend toward early specialization in youth sports. This may lead young athletes to becoming discouraged and parents frustrated by not knowing what they should do to provide a positive experience for the children.

“As a longtime partner of Little League and supporter of youth sports, Russell Athletic® was interested in learning about the challenges that both young athletes and their parents face in this high-pressure society,” said Matt Murphy, Vice President of Marketing for Russell Athletic®. “It’s our hope these results will help us better understand the issues that face today and future athletes so we can continue to support and provide solutions for team members as well as their parents.”

The survey, which had 1,132 responses, was conducted to gain insight into the benefits and challenges facing youth sports culture today by asking the parents of children who are highly involved in sports what they are seeing first hand.

Most the respondents to this survey were current or past coaches (88 percent) and had excellent insight into the ways to navigate the challenges presented by sports today.

Some of the key takeaways revealed in the survey included:

  • Competition and fun are not mutually exclusive – 97 percent of parents agree that you can focus on fun and competition at the same time. Parents even believe that fun should take priority (82 percent).
  • Valuable life lessons in sports – Parents know that sports teach lessons that are the building blocks for a successful life. Top lessons parents listed included teamwork (85 percent), hard work (61 percent), perseverance (50 percent), friendship (48 percent) and self-discipline (47 percent).
  • Positive encouragement from coaches – To help alleviate parent’s concerns about coaching in youth sports, it is important that coaches discover and learn what is most important for the children they are coaching. The top principles in coaching that were listed included giving positive encouragement (78 percent), treating failure as a lesson (41 percent), teaching by example (38 percent) and offering constructive criticism (35 percent).
  • Specialization in youth sports – 85 percent of parents believe early specialization in youth sports to be a negative trend. It is significant, but not dominant, with only 31 percent of children specializing.
  • Parents taking their children’s sports too seriously – 86 percent believed parents take their children’s sports too seriously and 93 percent believe parents’ behavior is an issue.
  • Parents putting too much pressure on their children – 81 percent of respondents believe that parents are putting too much pressure on kids when it comes to youth sports.
  • Expectations do not match reality – 41 percent of parents believe that their children will be or was good enough to play collegiate athletes. Reality shows that only 8 percent of current high school athletes go on to compete in the NCAA.

Russell Athletic® wanted to offer more than just statistics from the results of the survey. They took these findings and helped compile a cheat sheet for parents as a guide to a more positive sports life. View the full study, "The Positive Parent: A Study on the Lessons Surrounding Youth Sports Today."



For over 115 years, Russell Athletic® has been dedicated to helping athletes perform at the highest level. We are the American athletic brand that is passionate about designing apparel for all athletes: little leagues to big leagues, weekend warriors to elite competitors. For more information, please visit, Facebook and Twitter.


About Positive Coaching Alliance

Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) develops BETTER ATHLETES, BETTER PEOPLE through resources for youth and high school sports coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes. In addition to nearly 1,500 free multimedia tips and tools at, PCA has partnered with roughly 3,500 schools and youth sports organizations nationwide to deliver more than 20,000 live group workshops, along with online courses and books by PCA Founder Jim Thompson that help those involved in youth and high school sports create a positive, character-building youth sports culture.


About Little League®

Founded in 1939, Little League® Baseball and Softball is the world’s largest organized youth sports program, with nearly 2.4 million players and one million adult volunteers in every U.S. state and more than 80 other countries. During its nearly 80 years of existence, Little League has seen more than 40 million honored graduates, including political leaders, professional athletes, award-winning artists, and a variety of other influential members of society. Each year, millions of people follow the hard work, dedication, and sportsmanship that Little Leaguers® display at our seven baseball and softball World Series events, the premier tournaments in youth sports. For more information, visit, and follow Little League on Facebook (, Twitter (, and Instagram ( Follow all of the action from the seven Little League World Series tournaments at or on social media using #LLWS.

Fatherly is a digital lifestyle guide for men entering parenthood. With unique tools that assist new fathers and provide highly technical age and stage information that will provide accurate and factual information about a child's development, the platform offers thoughtful, informative content along the parenting lifecycle.



[i] Russell Athletic, in partnership with Positive Coaching Alliance, Little League Baseball, and Fatherly, conducted this survey in July of 2017 and was live July 5th - 17th, 2017. Barkley, the marketing agency for Russell Athletic, drafted, programmed and deployed the survey, with the assistance of partners. The survey was posted on the Positive Coaching Alliance, Little League and Fatherly social media channels, as well as sent to their email databases. Thus, this sample consists predominantly of highly involved sports parents, many of whom have been coaches. 1,132 respondents completed the survey, with a margin of error of +/- 2.83%