The Athletic Triangle

Updated 16 February 2023

As youth sports strive towards the ultimate dream, the role of parents of young players has become increasingly significant in the rapidly evolving landscape. Sports parents create a positive environment for children to express themselves and learn, but coaches can’t assume every parent is equally knowledgeable or open-minded. It’s crucial to educate and support parents to ensure every child’s success. Though it may be complex and time-consuming, the benefits are undeniable.

Coaches often neglect involving parents due to time constraints or lack of effort in communicating. Typically, coaching sessions last 1-1.5 hrs, 1-2 times a week, and 1 game on weekends, totalling 5-9 hours of weekly contact time. It emphasises how vital parents’ involvement is in sports. To successfully implement this theory, coaches and clubs must establish and maintain a positive and ongoing relationship with each member of the “athletic triangle.” The model is an excellent visual representation that highlights all stakeholders who must collaborate to promote the well-being of the child and the player.

Establishing a positive and continuous relationship with each ‘athletic triangle’ in youth sports can yield multiple benefits for all stakeholders. This approach ensures the child’s interests and needs are prioritised through collaborative efforts between parents, coaches, and players, creating a supportive and empowering environment for the child to excel. Effective communication among all parties can enhance the overall experience and help identify and tackle any challenges or issues that may arise during the child’s sports journey. Ultimately, this fosters teamwork and collaboration among stakeholders for the child’s growth and development.

Implementing a positive and continuous relationship between all stakeholders in youth sports can face several challenges. One of the biggest challenges could be the lack of communication and cooperation among stakeholders, which may result in conflicting priorities and goals. Another challenge could be the differing levels of knowledge, understanding, and expectations among stakeholders, which can make it difficult to establish a common ground.

Sometimes in youth sports, breakdowns in communication, confrontations, and power struggles can occur, especially when it comes to controlling the development of individual players. However, a model like the ‘Athletic Triangle’ can help address these issues by drawing on research from fields like sports psychology and family systems theory. By integrating the coach, parent, and athlete within a sporting context, this approach can support collaboration and promote a positive and supportive environment for all involved.


To create an enjoyable and beneficial environment for each player, the athletic triangle should prioritise components such as mutual trust, encouragement, cooperation, and communication. This requires continuous and efficient management to foster a culture that considers the needs of all stakeholders, with an emphasis on each player’s growth and development. The model highlights the importance of putting the person’s needs first, but without proper implementation by the coach/club, the model may become adult-centric, prioritising the needs of coaches and/or parents over the individual needs.

For coaches and organisations to successfully implement a collaborative framework with parents, they must possess the necessary skills and qualities to involve and support them. This involves creating a culture that encourages parents to actively engage with the club, which can be achieved through regular parent meetings and ongoing communication. It’s essential that this is an ongoing process, rather than a one-off event, to effectively incorporate and empower parents as key stakeholders over time.

Creating a positive environment for youth sports isn’t a quick fix that can be achieved with a single meeting. It requires a continuous effort that starts with pre-season meetings involving the organisation, parents, and players. From personal experience, I’ve found that dedicating sufficient time to a pre-season parent meeting and managing time throughout the year is crucial in implementing the Athletic Training approach. Below are some of the methods and approaches I’ve used to promote the Athletic Training model throughout the football season. I hope these can serve as a foundation for you to adopt in your own sports environment.

How does the Athletic Triangle work?

  • The Athletic Triangle involves parents, coaches, and athletes, which creates a collaborative environment that prioritises the needs of the child and player.
  • The model establishes clear lines of communication between all stakeholders, which can lead to better understanding, support, and positive relationships.
  • By identifying and anticipating components of relationships such as mutual trust, confidence, encouragement, cooperation, and communication, the model can increase participation, engagement, and enjoyment for each player.
  • The approach promotes teamwork and collaboration among all stakeholders, which can help identify and address any issues or challenges that may arise during the child’s development in sports.
  • The approach emphasises the needs of each player, with the acknowledgement that everyone is working in tandem, which can lead to a better learning and enjoyable environment and culture.
  • Neglecting the approach can lead to an adult-dominant environment that puts a greater focus on the needs of coaches and/or parents, which can result in communication breakdowns, confrontation, power struggles, and a negative experience for the child and player.
  • Coaches gain an increased level of support and greater understating of the club and/or coach expectations by parents and players.

The Athletic Triangle is a powerful tool that can help promote the well-being and development of young players in youth sports. By establishing a positive and continuous relationship between coaches, parents, and players, this approach can create a supportive and empowering environment for the child to excel. However, to successfully implement this approach, coaches and organisations must possess the necessary skills and qualities to involve and support parents. This requires ongoing effort and effective communication to identify and tackle any challenges or issues that may arise during the child’s sports journey. Overall, prioritising the needs and interests of the child while fostering collaboration and teamwork among stakeholders is key to creating an enjoyable and beneficial environment for each player..

Thank you – Diolch yn fawr

The Sporting Resource


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