Athletes’ Perceptions of Developing Relationships Through Adult-Oriented Coaching in Online Contexts

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Kimberley Eagles Cape Breton University, Sydney, NS, Canada

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Bettina Callary Cape Breton University, Sydney, NS, Canada

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https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7470-3487 *
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Online coaching has grown in popularity, in which the coach and athlete work together using Internet-based platforms, without meeting in person. Kettlebell lifting has been using the online format for some time. The majority of Kettlebell lifters are Masters Athletes (MAs), over the age of 35 years, and competing in registered events around the world. Adult-oriented psychosocial coaching approaches that prioritize relationship development have proven to be successful when coaching MAs. While the coach–athlete relationship has been extensively examined, it is not known how the coach–athlete relationship is created and maintained in an online-only environment. The purpose of this study is to explore the perceptions of MAs’ relationships with their online coaches. Five kettlebell lifters were interviewed to explore their experiences of having online coaches. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis, the lifters’ individual experiences within the online coaching environment were examined. Three higher order themes suggest (a) initial relationship building involves the coach selection by the MA, as well as developing closeness and complementary behaviors; (b) progressing in the relationship through communication; and (c) coach programming that is adaptable and negotiated. The coach–athlete relationship for mature adults in an online-only platform can be fostered through adult-oriented approaches.

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