Coaching and COVID-19: A longitudinal case study of youth volleyball coaches


Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, coaches and youth sport organizations have worked tirelessly to reimagine the design and delivery of sport programming which adheres to public health regulations while still providing an enriching athlete experience. The purpose of this case study was to explore the perceptions of youth club volleyball coaches prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study is a part of a larger project conducted in partnership with a youth volleyball club in the Eastern United States. 23 coaches took part in six total focus group interviews. The focus groups were conducted at two critical points in time: a) just prior to the onset of the pandemic; and b) after having one season interrupted by the pandemic, while preparing for another. Focus groups allowed coaches to reflect on topics such as club culture, athlete development, and how the pandemic has impacted the experiences and well-being of both coaches and athletes across the club. All focus group interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Coaches shared valuable insights regarding how the club was able to pivot in light of the pandemic while maintaining their family-like culture and emphasis on holistic athlete development. The findings from this study should have practical value as coaches and youth sport organizations begin to return to some semblance of normal sport programming in the aftermath of COVID-19.