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Nicole LaVoi is the associate director of the U of M's Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport.

University of Minnesota youth sports expert advises soccer parents to resist urge to coach from the sidelines

World Cup draws attention to soccer

June 11, 2010

With the start of the World Cup in South Africa today, many kids who play soccer will gather with their own teammates and friends to watch matches during the next few weeks. When they aren't watching the World Cup, they will likely be playing soccer themselves and whether their experience is good or bad often depends on the role parents and coaches play. An University of Minnesota expert who can discuss this is:

Nicole LaVoi, University of Minnesota researcher

LaVoi, associate director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport and co-founder of the Minnesota Youth Sport Research Consortium, is an expert in youth sports, coach and sport parent education, and girls and women in sports. She teaches sport psychology and sport sociology in the School of Kinesiology within the U of M's College of Education and Human Development.

To create the best experience for youth in soccer and other sports, parents and coaches must create a climate focused on skill development and learning rather than the primary focus of winning, LaVoi says.

What's the biggest message for parents? "Don't yell and scream and play coach from the sidelines," LaVoi says. "The kids don't like it. We know that from research."

The yelling might lead to anxiety, distraction, lack of enjoyment and decreased performance, she says. "It could eventually lead to burn out and the athlete dropping out of the sport."

While parents play a critical role in their child's participation in sports, they receive little or no education on how to create a positive experience. To change that, LaVoi co-developed Minnesota PLAYS (Parents Learning About Youth Sports,) a cutting edge research-based educational program, developed from youth sport data collected in Minnesota communities.

To interview LaVoi, contact Patty Mattern in the University of Minnesota News Service at or (612) 624-2801.

Expert Alert is a service provided by the University News Service. Delivered regularly, Expert Alert is designed to connect university experts to today's breaking news and current events. For an archive and other useful media services, visit Views expressed by experts do not represent the views of the University of Minnesota.

Tags: College of Education and Human Development

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