Cardiovascular and Energy Requirements of Parents Watching Their Child Compete: A Pilot Mixed-Methods Investigation

Marc Lochbaum, Rebeka Prosoli, Renata Barić


Purpose: Researchers have extensively documented the cardiovascular and metabolic demands for sports participation. To date, researchers have ignored the same requirements of competitor’s parents. Hence, our purpose was to document parent cardiovascular and metabolic responses to watching their child compete while also paying particular attention to their thoughts before and after the competition. Achievement Goal Theory (AGT) drove interpretation of parent thoughts. Materials: Parents wore a device, made by Firstbeat Technologies, which continuously monitored heart rate. The parents wore the device the night before the competition to be acclimated to the technology and during the event until later in the day. Parents also completed two open-ended questions, one before the tournament and one after the contest. Results: Before the contest, the dad expected that his son won the event (Croatian National Championships for juniors). Conversely, the mother’s expectations centered more on her son’s enjoyment and competing to the best of his abilities. Parents had differing cardiovascular and energy requirement responses to watching their son compete. In addition, post-competition reflections differed as the father expressed disappointment whereas the mother expressed sadness. Conclusions: The data presented are unique and a first in the sports literature. The parents varied in the intensity of their cardiovascular responses and calories burned while watching their son compete. The father’s cardiovascular response over the course of watching was that of an aerobic workout. Whether this pattern is unique or universal are a critical research question. Last, AGT appears relevant when assessing the parent’s expectations.


achievement goal theory; qualitative research; heart rate monitoring; youth sport

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