Exploring varsity head coaches' perspectives of 360-degree feedback


Researchers have long been interested in the type of feedback coaches provide to their athletes (Mallett et al., 2013). However, there has been a dearth of research exploring how coaches receive feedback regarding their own coaching practices. The purpose of the current study was to examine varsity head coaches' perspectives of 360-degree feedback—a multi-rater performance appraisal system. Ten (6 males, 4 females) head coaches of Canadian varsity sport teams were interviewed and the data were analyzed inductively using a thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Coaches reported that obtaining feedback from relevant others regarding their coaching was crucial to their professional development. Specifically, coaches noted they primarily received feedback from their players, assistant coaches, and athletic directors through formal (e.g., surveys) and informal (e.g., face-to-face) methods. Coaches believed the benefits of utilizing 360-degree feedback ranged from an increased sense of athlete empowerment, to the generation of honest feedback, to the accuracy of feedback that can result from using multiple sources. However, coaches also described some challenges with this type of feedback system, including logistical issues and concerns that the feedback is provided anonymously. Finally, the coaches highlighted key considerations for implementing 360-degree feedback, which included instituting a policy of constructive feedback, framing 360-degree appraisals as a development tool, and utilizing technology as a primary method for collecting feedback. From a practical standpoint, coaches and/or athletic directors can use the information gleaned from this study to implement more effective multi-rater feedback systems.