An obsessive focus on any sport can deter kids from playing and damage relationships, experts warn adults.
Sandra Sims, Ph.D., associate professor of human studies in the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Education, said while parents do not purposefully take the joy out of their children's games, being overzealous about their abilities, effort or participation can do just that.
"Young athletes have two needs that should be fulfilled, and those are to feel worthy and have fun," Sims, who was a middle- and high-school teacher and coach for 20 years, said.
"When a sport is no longer fun - if the child feels the sport is more like a job - they will quit," she said.
Josh Klapow, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Public Health, added that parents' good intentions can get in the way of kids' sports.
"Conflict arises when we are unable to distinguish between what we want for our children and what we wanted for ourselves in the past," Klapow said.
"When the lines get blurred, that is where problems start," he said.
Klapow noted that sports can start problems in an adult's life, kids or no kids, and said red flags include if sports cause them to miss important family gatherings or become violent.