The parasport coach-athlete relationship in the context of wheelchair basketball


People who have an acquired impairment have reported enhanced levels of well-being, quality of life, and happiness when engaging in physical activity and sport. One person who can foster the benefits of sport participation is the coach. More specifically, the quality of athletes' sporting experiences are strongly influenced by the relationship they share with their coaches. To date, little research has explored the influence of the coach-athlete relationship in parasport. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of wheelchair basketball athletes on their coach-athlete relationship. Data were collected using a timelining approach to learn about the participants' experiences regarding the acquisition of their impairment, and then via semi-structured interviews to explore athletes' views on the coach-athlete relationship. Data were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using a thematic analysis. The results demonstrated that positive coaching behaviours (e.g., inclusivity, emotional support) contributed to the coach-athlete dyad. Alternatively, athletes reported a decreased interest in wheelchair basketball and feelings of frustration associated with negative coaching behaviours (e.g., favouritism, lack of support). Athletes also noted that coaches who had an impairment were viewed as a facilitating factor to the coach-athlete relationship. Finally, maintaining a professional relationship as well as addressing gender differences were identified as coaching practices that enhanced the quality of relationships, which in turn, facilitated performance. The current findings demonstrate the important role that parasport coaches play in developing a strong and trusting bond with their athletes as it contributed to athletes' long-term involvement in parasport, athletic success, and well-being.