Building and Elevating the Coach-Athlete Relationship: Reported Behaviors of Effective High School Athletic Coaches
Olson, Hannah Owings
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The relationship between a coach and an athlete lies at the heart of the athletic experience. This relationship can profoundly impact how a student-athlete experiences their sport, as well as their overall development as a young adult. Despite this, research focused on effective coaching practices remains an under-studied area of inquiry, particularly at the high school level. The purpose of this research was to better understand coaching behaviors that lead to quality coach-athlete relationships and how positive relationships manifest themselves at the individual and team levels. This qualitative study examined 24 high school Varsity head coaches and assistant coaches in the Pacific Northwest. Surveys, semi-structured interviews, and on-site observations were utilized to solicit coach opinions and perceptions on how relationships with athletes are built and elevated. Components of the International Sports Coaching Framework and Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory were adapted to create a conceptual framework in which this study was grounded. Findings suggest that a strong coaching philosophy and baseline of sport knowledge underlie the relationship building process between high school coaches and their athletes. Demonstration of care, effective communication, as well as consistent and transparent behavior emerged as primary themes for relationship building. Findings also identify the creation of leadership and ownership opportunities for athletes as a cornerstone of effective coaching. Individual and team outcomes resulting from quality coach-athlete dyads are discussed, focused primarily on the benefits of committed athletes and the positive team environment that results. Findings tied to the barriers of relationship building are summarized, in addition to ways in which this study can inform future research centered around quality coaching practices in the high school environment and broader athletic context.
- Education - Seattle