The effects of coaches' observable emotions on athletes' self-reported enjoyment in a youth recreational basketball league


Perceived enjoyment has consistently been reported as one of the main determinants of youth sport participation, with coaches playing a salient role in facilitating an enjoyable environment. Observational studies of coaches and their interactions with athletes have traditionally focused on the content of coach behaviours; however there have been recent calls to explore the emotional tones of these behaviours. Given the affective nature of the enjoyment construct and growing interest in the topic of interpersonal emotion regulation, coaches' emotions represent a novel and potentially influential role in athletes' perceptions of enjoyment. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between coaches' observed emotions and youth athletes' perceived enjoyment in a recreational basketball league. Male coaches (n = 6) and their respective youth male athletes (n = 35; Mage = 11.9) were videotaped during games, while athletes also completed a self-report measure of sport enjoyment (SEYSQ; Wiersma, 2001). Coach behaviour was coded using the Assessment of Coaches' Emotions systematic observation instrument (ACE; Allan et al., 2014). A hierarchical cluster analysis of coaches' emotions revealed three distinct clusters: the "tense" coach (n = 1), the "neutral" coaches (n = 3), and the "happy" coaches (n = 2). Separate ANOVAs compared athletes' enjoyment data from six subscales within the SEYSQ. The "happy" coaches' athletes reported significantly higher levels of enjoyment from competition than athletes who were coached by the "tense" coach. The findings of this study provide preliminary evidence to suggest that coaches' emotions influence athletes' enjoyment, specifically competitive excitement.