A new study says nit-picking parents could be driving their kids away from sport.

Flinders University research says many parents are unwittingly driving their children to quit sport because of intense, post-match grillings.

Dr Sam Elliott, a lecturer in Sport, Health and Physical Activity, found that some nit-picking parents who trotted out statistics on their children’s performance were actually doing more harm than good.

Such parents, who often believed they were providing ‘constructive criticism’, were in fact destroying their children’s confidence and love of sport, according to Dr Elliott.

“Parents tend to believe that they’re being positive and passionate, and that this will benefit their children, but the truth is that the research shows it’s sometimes not the case,” he said.

Dr Elliot interviewed more than 100 parents and junior Australian Rules football players, aged from 12 to 13 years old, from clubs across the state for the study, which will be published in Sport, Education and Society.

“These kinds of debrief can play a positive part in your child’s participation in sport but when parents cross the line and, sometimes unwittingly, begin criticising their kids, a lot of damage can be done,” said Dr Elliott.