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.