Collegiate Coaches: An Examination of Motivational Style and Its Relationship to Decision Making and Personality

By Frederick, Christina M.; Morrison, Craig S. | Journal of Sport Behavior, June 1999 | Go to article overview
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Collegiate Coaches: An Examination of Motivational Style and Its Relationship to Decision Making and Personality


Frederick, Christina M., Morrison, Craig S., Journal of Sport Behavior


Not a great deal is known about psychological characteristics of NCAA, Division I and II coaches. Most of the knowledge related to motivation, personality and behavior of college coaches is gleaned from observation and anecdotal evidence. Because Division I, male, basketball and football coaches have such high profiles, we often ascribe to all coaches motivations and personality characteristics exhibited by these coaches. Is this indeed an accurate way to describe coaches? The following research presents a theoretically driven assessment measure of coaching motivation with corresponding reliability and validity estimates of this scale. Motivation style is then related to decision making and personality characteristics of Division I and II, collegiate coaches.

Coaching Motivation

What factors drive coaches to be in their chosen profession? Theoretical work in the domain of social psychology has examined female coaching motivation as well as attrition (Hart, Hasbrook & Mathes, 1986; Stevens & Weiss, 1991). In Stevens and Weiss' work, female coaches identified motivators which led them to coaching or kept them in the field. These motivators included: the pleasure or enjoyment associated with working with athletes and the fun of coaching. Weiss, Barber, Sisley and Ebbeck (1991) followed up on this earlier work with new female coaches. They found a number of motivators present in their sample, including coaching skill development, the satisfaction of working with athletes, the fun of coaching and the social support present in the coaching milieu. Unfortunately, neither of these studies addressed male coaching motives.

Other researchers have focused their attention on coaches and their behaviors, although not in a motivational sense. Smith, Smoll and Hunt (1977) created a coaching behavior assessment system that identifies spontaneous and reactive behaviors present in coaches as they direct practices and competitions. Chelladurai and associates (Chelladurai, 1990; Chelladurai & Carron, 1977; Chelladurai & Saleh, 1978) have also studied coaching behaviors and how athletes perceive their relationships with coaches. In Chelladurai's Multidimensional Theory of Coaching Behavior importance is placed upon the match between actual coaching behaviors, preferred coaching behaviors and behavior prescribed by the sport and the institution. Results of research using the Multidimensional Theory have primarily shown which leadership behaviors athletes prefer and how these relate to sport factors, such as performance and satisfaction.

Studies of coaching behavior, drawn from models in business, have tried to place coaching styles on a continuum from identifying those coaches with a people orientation to those whose focus is more task-oriented (Fiedler & Chemers, 1974; Fiedler, Chemers & Mahar, 1977; Danielson, 1977). This perspective certainly provides useful and important information about what coaches do and how athletes perceive their coaches. However, no research was found that addresses a fundamental issue surrounding coaching behavior namely what is the motivational attitude which drives coaches within their chosen profession? Thus, research in the domain of coaching motivation in both men and women, at a college level, is warranted.

Motivation in Sport

In the domain of sport, studies with athletes have attempted to create measures which distinguish between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for athletics (Frederick & Ryan, 1993; Goudas, Biddle & Fox, 1994). Using a theoretically derived measure of motivation based in Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985), Frederick and Ryan identified five components of participation motivation, which included dimensions of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. In Self-Determination Theory, emphasis is placed upon the distinction between behaviors driven intrinsically, for the inherently derived motives of interest, fun, enjoyment and challenge, and for those driven extrinsically by factors such as reward, material gain or external pressure.

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