Incongruence in the coach-athlete relationship: Potential consequences from misunderstanding


Achieving a shared understanding facilitates positive interpersonal interactions in dyadic relationships (Laing et al., 1966). Based on a case study of a large competitive sport team, we assessed perceptions of the coach-athlete relationships from the perspective of both the coach and each athlete. Each athlete (n = 60) completed the Coach-Athlete Relationship Questionnaire (Jowett & Ntoumanis, 2004) in regard to the head coach of the team (e.g., I feel close to my coach) and a measure of role satisfaction. Meanwhile, the head coach completed a questionnaire designed to assess his meta-perceptions of what each player would report regarding the coach-athlete relationship. We used polynomial regression analysis coupled with response surface methodology to examine how these different perspectives of the coach-athlete relationship relate to athletes' role satisfaction. The regression equation accounted for significant variance in athletes' satisfaction with their role (?R2 = .53, p < .001). The response surface patterns revealed a concave slope along the line of discrepancy (b = -1.08, p = .023) and a positive linear slope along the line of agreement (b = 1.52, p < .001). Put simply, role satisfaction decreased as athletes' perceptions of the coach-athlete relationship began to deviate from the coach's meta-perceptions of the relationships. In addition, role satisfaction was higher when similarity was achieved at a higher absolute level, when compared to similarity at a lower absolute level. In sum, athletes were more satisfied with their role when their perceptions matched the coach's meta-perceptions, and both of them viewed the relationship positively