An investigation of coaches' perceptions of working with athletes with a disability


There is growing recognition that coaches play an integral role in shaping the quality of sport experiences for athletes with a disability (AWAD). Previous studies indicate, however, that more evidence-informed resources are needed to enable coaches to foster quality sport participation. The COM-B ('capability', 'opportunity', 'motivation' and 'behaviour') model (Michie et al., 2014) provides a salient framework for identifying and developing recommendations for interventions. The aim of the present work was to examine coaches' (both coaches of AWAD (CAWAD) and coaches of able-bodied athletes (CABA)) perceptions of working with AWAD. Specifically, this study examined coaches' perceptions of their capability, opportunity, and motivation to coach AWAD, as well as to investigate their perceived challenges and recommendations for resources. Participants included 255 coaches (156 CAWAD; 99 CABA) who completed an online questionnaire assessing their demographics, sport background, and measures informed by the COM-B model (e.g., Huig et al., 2014; Michie et al., 2014). Results indicated that CAWAD reported significantly (p < 0.05) higher levels of perceived capability (5.25 ± 1.32 vs. 3.53 ± 1.26), opportunity (5.14 ± 1.35 vs. 3.49 ± 1.38), and motivation (5.70 ± 1.58 vs. 3.48 ± 1.82) to work with AWAD compared to CABA. Thematic analysis of the open-ended questions emphasized the need for evidence-informed coach education and guidelines that would help foster quality participation for AWAD. These findings provide theoretical insight regarding the application of the COM-B model within coaching research. Practical recommendations for coaches and sport organizations, as well as avenues for future research are discussed.