Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Exploring the Relationship Between Coaching Behavior and Developmental Outcomes Among Adolescent Female Athletes in Competitive Sport

It is well documented that sport is a positive youth development context that has the potential to foster the development of life skills that surpass the bounds of athletics. Sport participation has been linked to beneficial physical health outcomes as well as psychosocial growth in areas such as initiative, self-esteem, teamwork, and interpersonal skills (Hansen et al., 2003; Larson et al., 2006). Although sport participation can benefit athletes through socialization with peers, experiences with challenge, and supportive relationships with adult mentors, participation can also be associated with negative outcomes such as increased stress, engagement in risky behavior, and decreased perceptions of self-competence (Eccles & Barber, 1999; Fedricks & Eccles, 2006). Coaching behaviors are one factor that play a key role in constructing a positive sport experience and facilitating the development of life skills. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between perceived coaching behavior and developmental experiences, and to investigate the strategies used by coaches to facilitate the development and transfer of life skills. Using a mixed method sequential explanatory design, questionnaires were administered to 126 female adolescent athletes and in-depth interviews were conducted with six selected exemplar coaches (four males, two females) from a competitive youth sport program. Multivariate procedures indicated that the types of behaviors perceived to be used by coaches influenced the developmental experiences (i.e., life skill development) of players. Specifically, players who thought coaches demonstrated more positive coaching behaviors (and less negative rapport) were more likely to perceive positive developmental experiences. Furthermore, coaches identified strategies they utilized to foster the development of life skills among their players including establishing a coaching philosophy predicated on personal development, teaching life skills by integrating direct (i.e., explicit instruction, active learning) and indirect (i.e., modeling) teaching approaches during practice, and most critically, building a meaningful coach-athlete relationship. In sum, these findings highlight the notion that sports can provide an educational context for acquiring life skills and that the behaviors and relationships formed with coaches are crucial components of how female adolescents learn life skills through their involvement in competitive sport.