Experiences of families with a high-achiever child in sport: Case studies

  • Jessica Knoetze-Rape
  • Chris Myburgh
  • Marie Poggenpoel
Keywords: Sport family, Family life, High achiever in sport, Acknowledgement of parents, Parenting sport stars.


The family, not only the coach, plays a major role in the pursuit of children to reach the highest level in sport.  Yet, it is mainly the high achiever, and sometimes the coach, who get recognition for success in this regard.  This study explored the experiences of families with high-achieving adolescent athletes aspiring to compete in the Olympics. The participants consisted of three purposively selected South African families. In-depth  phenomenological interviews were conducted. Data were analysed by means of thematic coding. Four themes were identified: a child who is an achiever in sport affects the whole family; acceptance of the trying  circumstances of being a high achiever in sport made it easier for the achiever child to cope; as siblings grow older, they try to find their own niche in the family; and coaches become as important to children as their own parents. A cross-validation report of the three case studies and a discussion of findings in the literature give  insight into an understanding of the everyday lives of high achievers in sport.

Key words: Sport family; Family life; High achiever in sport; Acknowledgement of parents; Parenting sport  stars.


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0379-9069