Youth sport coaches' reflections on leadership behaviors during games and practices


Youth sport coaches shape the developmental sporting experience for their athletes (Camiré, Trudel, & Forneris, 2014). Specifically, coaches who form individualized, supportive relationships with their athletes can increase the development of personal and social skills (Fraser-Thomas, Côté, & Deakin, 2005). In light of the value of these relationships, increasing evidence is prompting the application of leadership theories, such as Transformational Leadership (TFL), in youth sport (Vella et al., 2013). The aim of this study was to explore coach perceptions of how and why leadership behaviours are applied in the youth sport context. Eleven coaches (Mage= 42.3, SD= 15.2) were recruited from competitive youth soccer and volleyball clubs (athletes' Mage= 15.8, SD= 1.9) in Eastern Ontario and participated in a stimulated recall interview. During the interviews, coaches reflected upon their own coaching behaviours and provided insight into the application of leadership behaviours in youth sport. Responses were prompted by relevant video sequences from recorded practice and game sessions. A thematic content analysis revealed that; i) coaches use a variety of leadership behaviours in youth sport, ii) the use of leadership behaviours vary across sport contexts or settings, and iii) contrasting leadership styles (e.g., transactional vs. transformational) are associated with distinctive coach objectives (e.g., promoting confidence vs. demanding respect). These findings have helped identify gaps within coach education, and provide theoretical insight for applying leadership theories, and more specifically TFL, to help improve the sport experiences of young athletes.