48% of Moms are Highly Active in Elementary School Sports
Mom’s involvement is very common in supporting her child’s participation in sports during the elementary school years. Research for my book Tuning into Mom shows 60% of moms of children ages 7-12 report their child participates in sports. This high level of participation is seen among both moms of girls (57%) and moms of boys (64%).
Within this context of involvement, the elementary school years are the most active and the highest point for Mom’s direct participation, including as coaches. Marketing to Moms Coalition, State of the American Mom reports 48% of moms of elementary schoolchildren report spending more than three hours a week personally attending their child’s extracurriculars, well ahead of total moms at 40%.
There are a number of reasons behind Mom’s high level of participation, including the natural stage of her child’s development (vs. greater separation of middle school and teen years) and the need of many elementary school sports leagues for parent volunteers in order to function. The need for parental help in the elementary school years, and to some extent during middle school, contrasts with many high school leagues that have paid coaching or coaching from a schoolteacher.
Today, in the elementary school years from a cultural standpoint, it seems almost that a mom who does not stay to attend her child’s game makes a bigger statement than a mom who does attend. While on the sidelines watching her child’s game, Mom can also exchange tips about the best training, summer camps, sports equipment, snacks and other factors related to sports. Gillian, a mom of elementary schoolchildren and a middle schoolchild, shares her family’s spring weekend schedule to show the demands of a sport’s lifestyle on her family:
“With four boys, our family life on weekends revolves around the boys’ sports schedule. This is particularly so during the spring season when they are playing both baseball and soccer. The logistics of getting all the boys where they need to be at the right time is staggering. We are glad the boys are involved in these team sports, but sometimes it seems all-consuming.”
Mom involvement in coaching is higher at the elementary school level. In the American Youth Soccer Organization, for example, the most likely age group for mom coaching involvement are age groups that include under 6, under 8 and under 10. AYSO encourages moms to get involved with extensive training programs, as coach Jennifer Boschee-Danzer recalls in the article “Mom Power:”
“When my youngest daughter started in U-6, I got a phone call that there wasn’t a coach for her team and unless they found someone, she wouldn't have a team to play on. I told the woman who called me that I didn't know enough about soccer to be a coach. She said they would teach me everything I needed to know and give me lots of support. I decided to give it a try, and haven't stopped since.”
From drills and exercises that develop skills and are fun, to equipment that works well, to game strategy, Coach Mom seeks information and appreciates brands that support her. From an interview with Dr. Martha Ewing of the Michigan State University Institute for Study of Youth Sports, we learn that there are several barriers that prevent more moms from coaching, including family time pressures, an expectation that coaches are men, and women’s lack of confidence in their coaching skills and expertise.
Resources like Moms Team have sprung up to support Coach Mom, with articles such as, “Why Do Women Make Great Youth Sports Coaches?” Especially during the elementary school years, brands that encourage Mom to coach and support her in this role are appreciated. Brands should address Mom’s concerns, buoying her confidence in herself, as the AYSO has done with their training programs and Moms Team does with their research.