Meet: Johan Fallby
Can you give us a bit of background information on yourself?
My name is Johan Fallby from Stockholm, Sweden. I’m a sport psychologist with a cognitive behavioural therapy approach, combined with sport psychology and sport psychology research. I have been working as a full time sport psychologist since the beginning of the 21st century. Mostly within football at the Swedish Football Association, but also at Halmstad BK and Djurgårdens IF Stockholm in the Premiereship in Sweden. At the moment full time at F.C. Copenhagen in Denmark, proud competitor in Champions League and Europa League this year. My role is mostly with the first team, however I do spend some time in the youth academy on daily basis having individual counselling with players and staff and also delivering education in psychological issues. I am frequently hired by the Swedish Olympic Committee, the Swedish Sport Federation and other NGBs at conferences, educations and other consulting issues in sport psychology.
As an athlete, a former professional table tennis player, top 100 in the world and in the national team of Sweden.
How would you define a parent(s) role within the youth sports environment?
Parents have an important role in youth sports. First of all they influence their children in their sport behaviour. That is, if parents have an active lifestyle, doing exercise or sports with their kid. There is an increased chance that the child will adopt an active lifestyle as well. That has an immense impact on future health behaviours and the relation to an active lifestyle.
On the other hand there are also evidence that the parental role is important in developing future elite athletes. The parent that can find their role within the sport environment and match their social, psychological and financial support to the demands of the child will probably give her or him an advantage in the long run.
What are the benefits of embracing parental involvement within youth sports?
I believe that the parents should be educated by the sports organization on what their role contains. What kind of demands they put on the parents, but also what rights and important tasks parents can help with. I don’t believe that parents should be on the sports ground inside the sport, but they shall be nearby to support in all sorts of ways. And to define and find that role there has to be a dialogue between the sports organization and the parent. The dialogue should as well be exactly what it means. A dialogue. I found out that many parents are just being told what to do, and then they do it without understanding why. So the sports organization should invite coaches, staff, parents for a dialogue where they define different roles, demands, and tasks. What are a coach supposed to do? The parent? Athletes? And from there it is easier to define the roles and also have demands on how things are supposed to be done.
It sounds like a huge amount of work for some I think, but it is actually quite easy to do it. As soon you get acceptance from all groups involved, then you start to inforce the roles and define behaviours that are acceptable or even desirable within the different roles.
- How have you as a coach/club attempted to increase parental involvement?
We tried what I explained in question 3. It was a very exciting task to do, and I believe we have succeeded a most of the clubs where we have tried it. The communication between different roles in the sport environment suddenly flourished and people began to understand both why, and also how they were supposed to support athletes in the environment.
We have also tried to set up small meetings with parents before matches and tournaments. Lets say every third game in the little league we gather parents 30 minutes before kick-off to give them information, education and to ask questions to them. For some particular reason parents want to see the games and therefore they are at the venue anyway. That give us a good opportunity to reinforce what we want parents to know or do. We can also explain what has happened the last couple of weeks, what the focus on training has been, how we are going to play the game today and other things. Parents can also ask questions if there is anything that is unclear.
It has actually been a success. We also changed the mandatory “parents meeting” at the start of the season, to a “parent education”. There we work through the roles in and around the athletes and define how we are going to co-operate during the season. Practical information can these days easily be distributed through other channels, so why spend valuable time on that when we have the parents gathered?
Part 2 – Coming Soon
You can find more about Johan on these social media outlets:
Twitter: Johan Fallby
LinkedIn – Johan Fallby
Thank you Johan for taking the time to complete the following interview questions.
The Sporting Influencer