Motivational interviewing and university sport in canada: What do head coaches say?


Objective: Grounded in Motivational Interviewing (MI; Miller & Rollnick, 2013), the aim of this exploratory study was to describe situations in sport where coaches report using MI when interacting with athletes. Methods: Using a non-experimental design, male (n = 91) and female (n = 27) head coaches representing twenty-one sports competing at the university-level across Canada reported their use of open-ended questions, affirmations, reflections, and summaries (OARS) with athletes in the following situations: (a) Designated practice sessions, (b) Competitive matches/games, (c) Team/Individual meetings on a 0 (never) to 4 (always) Likert type scale. Results: Coaches reported using affirmations (M = 2.91±0.65), open-ended questions (M = 3.08 ±0.72), summaries (M = 2.38± 0.83), and reflections (M = 2.04±0.83) across each situation. Combined overall average use of OARS was also evident across meetings (M = 2.82±0.54), practices (M = 2.45±0.53), and games (M = 2.20±0.58). Significant within-subject ANOVAS using Grenhouse-Geisser corrections indicated differences in use of each OARS skill, as well as differences in overall combined use of OARS across situations (both p values less than .05). Bonferroni pairwise comparison indicated that each individual OARS skill differed from the other, and combined use of OARS was different across each situation (all p values less than .05). Discussion: Coaches in this study reported communicating with athletes in ways germane to MI in various situations, which suggests that studying MI in relation to coach-athlete relations is a potential area of research that may strengthen our understanding of coach-athlete communication.

Acknowledgments: Research funded by the Ontario Graduate Scholarship