The Effects of Head and Assistant Coaches' Uses of Humor on Collegiate Soccer Players Evaluation of Their Coaches

By Grisaffe, Christie; Blom, Lindsey C. et al. | Journal of Sport Behavior, June 2003 | Go to article overview

The Effects of Head and Assistant Coaches' Uses of Humor on Collegiate Soccer Players Evaluation of Their Coaches


Grisaffe, Christie, Blom, Lindsey C., Burke, Kevin L., Journal of Sport Behavior


Humor is a crucial part of every day life that can be a simple response to comedy, a cathartic mood-lifter, or a social vocalization that binds individuals together (Provine, 2000). Various studies have focused on the physiological and the psychological effects of humor (Lehman, Burke, Martin, Sultan, & Czech, 2001) as well as the effects of teachers' use of humor in the classroom.

Studies have examined the effectiveness of teachers who use humor (Gruner, 1966, 1967), student learning outcomes (Kaplan & Pascoe, 1977; Nussbaum, Comadena, & Holladay, 1985; Terry & Woods, 1975;), and teacher evaluations (Bryant, Comisky, Crane, & Zilimand, 1980). Furthermore, students have identified humor as an important teacher trait (Weaver & Cotrell, 1988). Additionally, humor has been seen to aid in the establishment of developing relationships (Weaver & Cotrell, 1988) and in creating an open and relaxed atmosphere (Gilliland & Mauritsen, 1971). Overall, teachers' use of humor in the classroom has positive outcomes for the students and the instructors (Burke, Peterson, & Nix, 1995). These studies have shown that teachers who use humor in their classroom are viewed by the students as very approachable, are able to develop a positive rapport with students, and seem to be evaluated highly (Neuliep, 1991).

These positive outcomes could be helpful on the playing field, as well as the classroom. Coaching is similar to teaching in that both professionals instruct, teach, and modify behaviors of individuals (Burke et al., 1995). Very little research was found on the use of humor in coaching. One of the few studies found examined college volleyball players' perceptions of their coaches' humor (Burke et al., 1995). In this study, a significant relationship between the players' perceptions of their coaches and liking the coaches was illustrated. Furthermore, volleyball players liked their coaches more if the players felt their coaches had a sense of humor. Since previous research suggests humor influences the perceptions of others, the purpose of this study was to further examine perceived use of humor by coaches and the associated coaches' likeability.

Method

Participants

Thirty-three male (N= 20) and female (N 13) Division I soccer players from a southeastern university participated in this study during the off-season. Both teams were coached by male head and assistant coaches. The average age was 19.24 years (SD = .83), and 31 of the participants were Caucasian. Participants had played soccer from 9 to 18 years and had played for the current coach an average of 1.6 years (SD = .863). Of the 33 participants, there were 18 freshmen, 11 sophomores, 3 juniors, and 1 senior.

Instruments

The three instruments used in this study consisted of a demographic questionnaire, modified version of the Coach Evaluation Questionnaire (CEQ) (Rushall & Wiznak, 1985) for the head coach, and another modified version of the CEQ for the assistant coach. The CEQ has been shown to be a reliable and valid instrument (Martin & Lumsden, 1987) with content validity established by 18 competent judges (Rushall & Wiznak, 1985). During construction of the CEQ test-retest reliability for each question was established with each final question meeting the cutoff point of r .80 (Rushall & Wiznak, 1985). There were 36 questions on the modified version of the Coach Evaluation Questionnaire that measured a variety of coaching domains. Due to the previously mentioned literature indicating the importance of humor, this investigation focused on the possible interplay between humor usage and players "liking" the coach, using the three following specifically related questions: "The coach has a sense of humor," "I like the coach," and "The coach usually finds something comical, witty, or funny in many situations." Participants' responses were measured by a Likert scale of 1 -5 (1 = strongly agree, 5 = strongly disagree).

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