Coaches are recognized as important sources of athlete experiences (e.g., learning, sport satisfaction, relationships with teammates), but little attention has been devoted to how coaches foster positive self-perceptions. The current exploratory study proposes that coaches are likely sources of confirmation (i.e., feeling of recognition, endorsement, and acknowledgment). This assumption was substantiated via 12 interviews with Division I volleyball players during the 2013 season as 6 confirming acts and messages used by coaches were identified (i.e., individualized communication, personal relationships, encouragement, demands for improvement, recognition, and demonstration of investment). In addition, 4 phenomena that influence confirmation were identified (i.e., adversity, knowledge of other coaches, athletes’ roles on the team, and timing). These results extend confirmation to the sport context, provide sport communication scholars with a novel framework to understand athlete–coach communication, and illustrate that various phenomena (including starting status) can influence confirming communication between athletes and coaches.
Cranmer is with the Dept. of Communication Studies, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV. Brann is with the Dept. of Communication Studies, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN.