Coaching is a structured practice of development that helps another individual achieve a specific personal goal by providing guidance and teaching. Coaches develop particular leadership styles to influence an athlete’s behavior to help them achieve competitive advancement, as well as influence the psychological, emotional, and spiritual well being of players. Examining sports leadership and coaching behaviors imparts fundamental knowledge to sports bodies, leagues, trainers, and coaches to provide information on academic sports literature for sports communities around the globe.
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Athletes’ preferences for coaching behavior were measured by researchers in the Philippines. They looked at five dimensions of leadership behavior in a sports context, such as training and instruction, democratic, autocratic, social support, and positive feedback. A variety of social factors were also studied to determine preferred leadership styles of athletes, such as gender, age, maturity level, type of sport and the level of competition.
To avoid compounds, researchers investigated the behavior of athletes in a particular sport, badminton, to identify and compare young athletes’ leadership preferences based on gender, playing experience, level of competition, and coach gender. They set out to determine if there is a relationship between socio-cultural variables and coach preference among young athletes.
167 subjects between the ages of 9-18 years participated in the study, 91 girls and 76 boys who competed in a 2015 badminton event. The length of player experience was between 1 and 12 years, and their coach supervised the majority of them for less than 6 months, or between 7-12 months. 56 of the student-athletes worked with their coach between 13-24 months and over two years. Data were collected over 7 days during the tournament. Subjects’ demographics were noted, and player preferences for coaching behavior were measured with a 40-item questionnaire.
Results from the study indicate a statistical significance based on the coach’s gender of the athlete, however, results did not indicate a statistical significance in the five leadership dimensions. Results indicated that boys with female coaches preferred more democratic behavior and socially supportive coach behavior, whereas boys with male coaches did not. Girls with male coaches favored the same qualities such as democratic behavior and social support than girls with female coaches.
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Boys preferred democratic behavior, social support, and autocratic behavior to girls. However, girls preferred training, instruction, and positive feedback more so than boys, but these differences were not statistically significant. Results indicate a lack of gender disparity in coaching style and coach gender among young athletes.
The outcomes of this study provide support to the notion that young male and female athletes are more similar than they are different in terms of their preferences for coach behavior. A good coach is a good coach, regardless of gender, as long as the coaching style is socially supportive, provides positive feedback, and employs a mix of democratic and autocratic coaching styles when necessary.
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Cruz, A., & Kim, H-D. (2017). “Leadership Preferences of Adolescent Players in Sport: Influence of Coach Gender.” Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 16, 172-179.