Towards a Better Understanding of the Dynamics of Sports Coaching at the Youth Level



Place: Aud A. Prøveforelesning: At what age should parents encourage their children to participate in competitive youth sports: A developmental perspective?

Formal title

Towards a Better Understanding of the Dynamics of Sports Coaching at the Youth Level: The Coach's Perspective. A Study of the Youth Football Coaches Participating in the Norwegian Arm of the Promoting Adolescent Physical Activity (PAPA) Project.


This doctoral thesis aimed to acquire detailed information about volunteer youth football coaches who provide sports coaching to young athletes.


The purpose of this doctoral thesis was four-fold: (a) to investigate the potential psychological costs and benefits of providing different styles of coaching to young athletes for coaches themselves, (b) to gain insights into what coaches considered to be the merits of participating in the Norwegian arm of the Empowering Coaching™ training program (ECTP; Duda et al., 2013), (c) to validate a questionnaire that measures coaches' self-report of their own empowering and disempowering behaviors, and (d) to investigate the effectiveness of the ECTP on coaches' self-reported empowering and disempowering behaviors.


The overall findings and recommendations of this doctoral thesis are that the perspectives of youth sport coaches need to be included in future research. Specifically, given the reciprocal nature of the coach-athlete relationship, future studies should investigate the interaction between multiple perspectives in the youth sport context. This is because results indicate that the provision of constructive and non-constructive styles of sports coaching to athletes is related to psychological costs and benefits for coaches themselves, which in turn, may have both positive and negative implications on athletes' psychosocial development. As such, the perspectives of youth sport coaches are equally important in future coach education research. Moreover, we examined whether coaches' self-reported empowering and disempowering behaviors differed from pre- to post-season after attending the ECTP, and what coaches considered to be the value of taking part in the ECTP, as well as the value of the ECTP's content. Findings showed that there was no difference in the coach behavior assessments from pre-to-post. However, results from semi-structured interviews among a subsample of the coaches indicated that participation in the ECTP led coaches to reflect on their own coaching practices, facilitating an increased focus on enabling autonomy and involvement for the athletes and providing more attention to the athletes' feelings of mastery. Lastly, this doctoral thesis investigated the effectiveness of the Norwegian arm of the ECTP. The results revealed no credible differences in the bivariate latent change scores between the intervention and the control group, neither in empowering nor in disempowering coach behaviors.
This research was financially supported by The European Commission's Seventh Framework Program FP7/2007-2013 under the grant number 223600

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