Exploring life skill development through coaching in emerging adults


Sport offers a context for youth to develop life skills (LS) such as initiative, leadership, and teamwork, which can be transferred to non-sport settings (Camiré et al., 2012; Holt et al., 2017). Coaching offers a natural extension of youth's sport involvement, as a first employment/volunteer opportunity as youth transition into young adulthood. Given many challenges (e.g., instability, identity) that often accompany emerging adulthood (Arnett, 2000), there is value in better understanding young coaches' experiences. While extensive research has examined youths' LS development through sport programming, emerging adults' experiences coaching have yet to be explored. The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of emerging adults' coaching experiences, with a specific focus on LS development through coaching. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 8 emerging adult coaches affiliated with a large sport for development facility in Toronto; transcribed interviews were explored through thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Coaches perceived they were developing life skills in their positions and described various means by which this was occurring. Specifically, they discussed LS they had learned as athletes (i.e., perseverance, respect, leadership, time management, communication) and how they were continuing to build/enhance these skills in different ways as coaches. Additionally, they discussed the challenges of their positions, and their desire for additional training (e.g., TED talks, staff check-ins, feedback/focus groups) to help better foster their LS development. Preliminary findings suggest LS development through sport can continue into emerging adulthood, but that LS development is not automatic, supporting past work in youth sport contexts.