Are coaches always supportive? A qualitative exploration of the dynamic use of coaching strategies

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Coach need supportive behaviors are associated with positive effects on players’ well-being and performance, with opposing effects known to exist for need controlling behaviors. Yet, little is understood about how the strategies are used in terms of their frequency and interchangeability. To explore these nuances and dynamics the present qualitative study sought to collect in-depth accounts from coaches operating within the United Kingdom. In total, six coaches were interviewed through Skype using a semi-structured guide and the transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis (Braun et al., 2016). An abductive approach was taken whereby previous literature on coach behaviour (i.e., Bartholomew et al., 2009; Berntsen et al., 2019) was used to deductively categorize known behaviors and inductive coding was used to capture any new approaches. The analysis showed that both controlling and supportive behaviors were used (e.g., competitions, giving choices); however, this did not cover all strategies (i.e., tangible rewards) or sub-strategies (e.g., clarifying responsibilities, physical punishment). Additionally, novel behaviors were identified including those targeting teamwork/teambuilding off the pitch (e.g., team commitment). The findings from this study support previous work that has shown that coaches combine both types of behavior (Haerens et al., 2018), however there appeared to be a clear preference towards supportive actions. Despite this, some behaviors had limited effects on players, since coaches set low expectations for their players (e.g., punctuality, participation). In turn, players’ lack of compliance required coaches to enact controlling strategies which caused coach discomfort and a subsequent lack of action. This pattern of behaviour fits to the chaos dimension as described by Delrue, et al. (2019) and supports the approach to adapt a multidimensional view on coach behaviour. This insight could help coaches to avoid chaotic behaviour and to balance supportive behaviors with structure, subsequently improving their coaching.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021
36th Annual Meeting of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology
Duration: 21 Oct 202024 Oct 2020


36th Annual Meeting of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology

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