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Parental Pressure Pushes Kids to Use Performance Enhancing Substances

Parental Pressure Pushes Kids to Use Performance Enhancing Substances

In today’s competitive environment youth athletes face incredible pressures to not only succeed, but to be perfect.

Sadly, the goal to be perfect often comes from parents, a pervasive force that may influence young male athletes to consider doping so as to obtain the extra edge.

Research from the University of Kent has revealed that parental pressure makes junior athletes more likely to use banned substances to enhance sporting performance.

Because of the risks identified in the findings, lead researcher Daniel Madigan suggests anti-doping programs should target junior athletes early in their sporting careers, and that parents should be made aware of the potential consequences of such pressure.

The study, “Perfectionism and attitudes towards doping in junior athletes” appears online in the Journal of Sports Sciences. The first-of-its-kind research discovered that young athletes’ attitudes to doping are more influenced by their parents than anyone else.

The research examined perfectionism and attitudes towards doping in 129 male British junior athletes (average age 17 years) in four different aspects of perfectionism. The study found that it was only parental pressure that showed a positive relationship with positive doping attitudes.

The other factors investigated were an athlete’s striving for perfection, their concerns about making mistakes and pressure from their coach to be perfect.

Researcher’s say they will now expand the study to examine if young female athletes are similar and if the findings are the same for those taking part in team versus individual sports.

Daniel Madigan, a Ph.D. student, remarked: “The problem of pressure from parents watching their children play sports is widely known, with referees and sporting bodies highlighting the difficulties and taking steps to prevent it.

Unrealistic parental expectations often place youth in harm’s way.

“With the rise of so-called ‘tiger’ parenting where strict and demanding parents push their children to high levels of achievement, this study reveals the price young athletes may choose to pay to meet their parents expectations and dreams,” explain the researchers.

Source: University of Kent
Young athlete photo by shutterstock.

Parental Pressure Pushes Kids to Use Performance Enhancing Substances

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Parental Pressure Pushes Kids to Use Performance Enhancing Substances. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 26 Feb 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.