Youth Coaching Preferences of Adolescent Athletes and Their Parents

By Martin, Scott B.; Dale, Gregory A. et al. | Journal of Sport Behavior, June 2001 | Go to article overview

Youth Coaching Preferences of Adolescent Athletes and Their Parents


Martin, Scott B., Dale, Gregory A., Jackson, Allen W., Journal of Sport Behavior


Participation in organized youth sport programs is an accepted part of childhood development in the United States (Coakley, 1998) and has the potential to have an enormous influence on the self-concept of children (Smith & Smoll, 1990). Coaches arid parents often in fluence whether the youth sport experience is positive ("11th Annual Special Teen Report: Teens and Self-Image: Survey Results," 1998). Over the past thirty years numerous findings have been reported regarding adolescent athletes motives to participate or discontinue involvement in youth sports. For example, Ewing and Seefeldt (1996) indicated that the top five reasons adolescents choose to participate or continue in organized sport programs were: (a) to have fun, (b) to improve skills, (c) to stay in shape, (d) to do something they are good at, and (e) for the excitement of competition. Although parental influences and socialization are often noted (e.g., Brustad, 1996b, Duda & Hom, 1993; Jambor, 1999; Scanlan & Lewthwaite. 1988), very little res earch has been conducted to determine parents' views, motives, and preferences related to their children's participation in such programs.

McCullagh, Matzkanin, Shaw, and Maldonado (1993) assessed participation motives of 81 children ranging from 7 to 14 years of age who were participating in a recreational soccer league. Likewise, they assessed the parents' perceptions of their children's motives to participate. The motives of children to participate in youth sport programs and parents' perceptions of their children's motives for involvement were found to be quite similar (McCullagh et aL, 1993). Specifically, results indicated that children and parents ranked intrinsic motives such as feeling good and having fun as primary reasons for participation and rated external motives as the lowest reasons for participation. Even though similarity existed, some differences were found which are worth noting. In particular, multivariate analysis of variance revealed that children rated the motives more positively than did their parents (McCullagh et al., 1993).

A more recent study conducted by Martin, Jackson, Richardson, arid Weiller (1999) investigated the preferred youth coaching behaviors of children and their parents using a revised version of the Leadership for Sport Scale (Chelladurai & Saleh, 1980). The revised preferred form of the LSS requests adolescent athletes and parents to provide their preference for coaching behaviors. Thus, the adolescent athletes' and their parents' preferred coaching style could be evaluated. The early and late adolescent athletes responded in a similar manner. Likewise, the results revealed that positive feedback and training arid instruction were important coaching behaviors for adolescent athletes and their parents. On the other hand, there were aspects of preferred coaching behaviors in which parents and children differed. For example, adolescents preferred a coach who provided social support and allowed them to have input into decision-making more than did the parents. Also, adolescent athletes preferred a coach who was empa thetic and supportive more than did the parents. Moreover, both boys and girls preferred a democratic coaching style more than did the parents. In addition, the results revealed that the girls wanted more input into team "happenings" than did the boys, while the mothers showed a slightly greater preference for democratic behavior than did the fathers. Based on their research and others, the authors speculated that female adolescent athletes and mothers generally prefer a more democratic style of coaching than do male adolescent athletes and fathers (Martinet al., 1999).

Besides coaching behaviors, other coaching characteristics and qualities (e.g., gender, age, experience, and win-loss record) may influence preference for a coach. Past research indicates that males and females are evaluated differently in achievement situations. …

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