Systematic Observation of Youth Ice Hockey Coaches during Games

By Trudel, Pierre; Cote, Jean et al. | Journal of Sport Behavior, January 1996 | Go to article overview

Systematic Observation of Youth Ice Hockey Coaches during Games


Trudel, Pierre, Cote, Jean, Bernard, Danz, Journal of Sport Behavior


An interval recording procedure was used to observe 14 youth ice hockey coaches during 32 different games. The Coaches Observation System for Games (COSG) was specifically developed to account for coach behaviors during games. The COSG included 16 categories of coach behaviors and eight categories describing to whom the behavior was directed. Results showed that coaches spent more than half (51.2%) of the recorded intervals observing without interacting with players or their assistant coaches. In addition to observing, other 1 frequent behaviors included organizing (115.0%), directing the game (8.1%), stimulating (6.7%) and providing Information (6.1%). Coaches directed most of their behaviors towards players in action (40.9%), players on the bench (30.4%), and players in transition (22.3%). Results indicated that the coaches offered little instruction to their players during games.

Studies examining children's involvement in physical activity have shown that the amount of time spent by children in organized sports in the community is greater than the time they spent in physical education class at school (Gould 1981; Ross, Dotson, Gilbert, & Katz, 1985; Telama, 1988). In Canada, a report to the Council of Ministers of Education (Gravelle, Deschenes, & Gravelle, 1988), indicated that children at school have two to three hours of physical activity classes out of every five or six days. This amount of time for physical activity at school is considered to be insufficient to reach multiple objectives such as the acquisition and integration of motor skills and the development of physical fitness habits (Jones, Tannehill, O'Sullivan, & Stroot, 1989; Metzler 1991; Nelson, 1991).

Because most learning is directly related to the time invested in the learning process, programs implemented through physical activity in the community are crucial to children's development (Telama, 1988). One important component of physical activity programs for children outside of school is community sport leagues. In industrialized societies, community sport leagues such as soccer, baseball, and ice hockey are among the most popular activities for children outside of school. Martens (1986) estimated that 20 million children between the ages of 6 and 18 participate regularly in some form of organized sport in non-school settings in the United States. Australian children have been estimated to have an even higher participation rate, Involving 67% and 75% of preadolescent girls and boys, respectively, (Robertson, 1986).

Organized sports exist mainly because of the support and involvement of volunteers, many of whom act as coaches willing to devote time to help children practise, enjoy, and learn a sport (Martens & Gould, 1978; Spallanzani, 1988). Both coaches in the community and physical educators at school share the task of teaching children to develop their physical competence (Hastle & Saunders, 1992; Scoff, 1979; Tinning, 1982). However, studies have shown that physical educators and coaches sometimes differ in how they interact with children (Hastle & Saunders, 1992; Rupert & Buschner, 1989; Wandzilak, Ansorge, & Potter, 1988). These differences in Instructional approaches can be explained by the dissimilar educational backgrounds of coaches and physical educators, as well as the divergence in their objectives, participant numbers, duration of training and competition, and social context of practicing the sport at school or in the community (Chu, 1984; Telama, 1988). As a result, even if the motor skills are the same, the instructional approaches used by physical educators in schools and coaches in the community often vary.

From a pedagogical point of view, most studies of youth sport coaches have systematically observed successful and/or less successful coaches of different sports during training (Lacy & Darst, 1985; Lacy & Goldston, 1990; Segrave & Cianco, 1990). Using event recording to collect the data, these studies have consistently shown that instruction was the behavior exhibited most frequently by coaches during training. …

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