Cardiff Metropolitan University
Parental stress and coping in elite youth gymnastics - an interpretative phenomenological analysis.pdf (294.5 kB)

Parental stress and coping in elite youth gymnastics: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-04-29, 14:42 authored by Naomi S. Burgess, Camilla J. Knight, Stephen MellalieuStephen Mellalieu

 Parents are essential in youth sport because they provide the emotional, informational, and financial support that enables their children to enjoy and succeed in their sporting endeavours. When providing such support, however, parents can experience a range of stressors from organisational, competitive, and developmental sources. This study sought to understand how parents of elite youth gymnasts cope within youth sport. Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to facilitate an in-depth exploration of parents’ experiences. Seven parents of national and international level gymnasts aged 11–14 years participated in semi-structured interviews and data were analysed according to the guidelines set out by IPA. The results suggest that parents face numerous organisational, competitive, and developmental stressors in youth gymnastics including time and travel demands, child’s competition nerves, schooling, finances, and injury. Parents employed four categories of coping to manage these stressors: (a) detaching from gymnastics (e.g. by sharing parental tasks, relying on their children to cope, and maintaining balanced lifestyles); (b) normalising experiences (e.g. by recalling and comparing experiences); (c) willingness to learn (e.g. from others and from their own past experiences); and (d) managing emotional reactions (e.g. through emotional release, self-talk, distraction, and avoidance strategies). The findings suggest that parents’ stress experiences are dynamic and complex, with parents utilising different coping strategies to manage different stressors in different situations. 


Published in

Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health


Taylor & Francis


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)


Burgess, N.S., Knight, C.J. and Mellalieu, S.D. (2016) 'Parental stress and coping in elite youth gymnastics: an interpretative phenomenological analysis', Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 8(3), pp.237-256

Electronic ISSN


Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

Stephen Mellalieu

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Mental Health and Wellbeing in Demanding Environments

Copyright Holder

  • © The Publisher


  • en

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