Athlete leadership development in youth hockey players


Athlete leadership has been found to be critical for achieving effective team functioning and performance (Bucci et al., 2012; Gould et al., 2002). Further, researchers have highlighted the importance of including all team members in leadership development training since all athletes can provide leadership to their team (Crozier et al., 2013). However, theoretically and empirically tested athlete leadership development programs are not common in the literature. Using Duguay et al.'s (2017) athlete leadership development program, the purpose of the present study was to implement an athlete leadership development program targeting the enhancement of leadership behaviours for youth hockey players. Participants were 15 male Peewee Minor hockey players from one competitive team. The leadership development program consisted of six, one-hour long sessions that occurred twice monthly. Each session comprised an introduction to the leadership behaviours, small group and/or independent activities, and a debrief led by the coaching staff. The data were derived from continuous observations of the players, and a diary based on observations from the principal researcher during the hockey season that included perspectives from both the players and coaches. An improvement in communication and social cohesion amongst the players was found over the course of the intervention. Further, the leadership development program was beneficial for the coaches by allowing them to practice and reflect on the same leadership behaviours as those addressed to the players (Nelson et al., 2006).