A description and comparison of youth sport coach leadership behaviours in training and competition


Research examining the influence of coach leadership behaviours in youth sport is limited (Vella et al., 2013). Accordingly, it is important to generate baseline descriptive data, revealing the extent to which leadership behaviours are currently being employed by youth sport coaches (Potrac et al., 2000). Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore and contrast youth sport coaches' full-range leadership behaviours (i.e., transformational, transactional, laissez-faire and toxic leadership; Bass & Avolio, 1994) across playing contexts (i.e., training and competition). To this end, a systematic observation was employed to examine the frequency of coaches' leadership behaviours. Seven head coaches of youth soccer teams and 46 athletes (Mage = 14.37, SD = 1.32, 28 female) were observed during one training session and one competition for a total of 14 observation sessions. Coaches' leadership behaviours were coded in a continuous, time-based manner for the duration of each recorded session using the Coach Leadership Assessment System (CLAS: Turnnidge & Côté, submitted). A repeated measures ANOVA revealed that coaches most frequently exhibited inspirational motivation, (M = 3.39), intellectual stimulation (M = 1.48), individualized consideration (M = 1.25), transactional (M = 0.99), idealized influence (M = 0.65), laissez-faire (M = 0.11), and toxic (M = 0.06). Additionally, our findings indicate that leadership behaviours, as a whole, were significantly more prevalent in training (M = 2.07) compared to competition (M = 0.12). These findings provide insight into the leadership behaviours employed by coaches across playing contexts. Practical implications and future directions will be discussed.