Navigating the Stress of Soccer Parents in German Youth Academies

Concerned Parents at Youth Soccer Game

Soccer academies are not just a test of skill for young athletes but also a crucible of emotions for their parents.

Read more: Navigating the Stress of Soccer Parents in German Youth Academies

A pivotal study, “Parents’ competitive stressors in professional German youth soccer academies: A mixed-method study,” by Valeria C. Eckardt, Travis E. Dorsch, and Babett H. Lobinger, published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise, Volume 58, 2022, explores this less discussed aspect.

Understanding Parents’ Stress in Elite Youth Soccer

The study delved into the competitive stressors experienced by parents at German elite youth soccer academies. It aimed to identify these stressors and understand the parents’ appraisals and emotions related to them. This approach is critical because parental stress can significantly impact young athletes’ experiences and development.

Methodological Approach

The study’s methodology was comprehensive. It involved 330 parents who completed an online mixed-method survey, detailing the stressors they encounter at their children’s competitions. The researchers utilized qualitative content analysis to examine parental self-disclosed stressors, followed by psychometric assessments for a detailed stressor-specific analysis.

Key Findings

The results were illuminating. A total of 831 competitive stressors were identified, with the majority (47%) related to the parents’ own child. Stressors concerning other soccer parents (18%) and the child’s coach (15%) were also prominent. Interestingly, coach-related stressors were perceived more as challenges (primary appraisal), while parents felt most competent in handling stressors involving other soccer parents (secondary appraisal). A significant difference in parents’ emotional experiences was noted, with coach-related stressors eliciting the highest anger scores.

Implications for the Soccer Community

These findings have profound implications. They suggest that parents’ experiences in youth soccer academies are complex and multifaceted. Understanding these stressors is essential for academy administrators, coaches, and parents themselves. It calls for a relational approach to managing stress, emphasizing the need for better communication and support systems within academies.

The Emotional Journey of Soccer Parents

The study highlights the emotional journey of soccer parents, often overshadowed by the focus on young athletes. It underlines the importance of parental well-being in the context of youth sports. Recognizing and addressing these stressors can lead to a healthier, more supportive environment for both the young athletes and their parents.

Why This Research Matters

In the competitive world of youth soccer, the focus is often solely on the players. However, this research shines a light on the parents, an integral part of the athletic experience. It opens up new conversations about the role of parents in youth sports and the importance of addressing their stress for the overall betterment of the sporting environment.


The study by Eckardt, Dorsch, and Lobinger is a crucial addition to sports psychology literature. It provides valuable insights into the stressors faced by parents in professional German youth soccer academies, urging the need for a supportive and empathetic approach to parent-athlete relationships in sports. For anyone involved in youth soccer, acknowledging and addressing these stressors is a step towards nurturing a more positive and productive environment for all.


Eckardt, V. C., Dorsch, T. E., Lobinger, B. H., et al. (2022). Parents’ competitive stressors in professional German youth soccer academies: A mixed-method study. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 58, 102089.

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