The Anatomy of a Successful Olympic Coach: Actor, Agent, and Author

in International Sport Coaching Journal
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  • 1 The University of Queensland
  • | 2 Queensland University of Technology
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Little in-depth knowledge is known about the person behind successful coaching. Therefore, the current study was designed to comprehensively examine the personality of a successful Olympic coach. Using McAdams’ whole-person framework, we sought to elicit a coherent description of this coach’s personality by integrating data drawn from three layers of personality: (i) dispositional traits, (ii) personal strivings, and (iii) narrative identity. The findings suggest that, compared with the norm, the participant coach is emotionally stable, agreeable, conscientious, and open to new experiences. His achievement and power strivings shape his motivational agenda as a coach. His narrative identity identifies many redemptive sequences that speak of a coach who is seeking to redeem his failures as an athlete, to feel special, and who invests himself wholeheartedly into developing others to help fulfill their potential. Overall, the study, incorporating McAdams’ personality framework, provided a deep understanding of the person as a coach. We were able to garner insights about how this individual typically behaves, what guides and structures his coaching priorities, and how he has made sense of his life experiences that are fundamental to his investment in coaching and winning. Tentative implications for coaches and coach developers are presented.

Cliff Mallett is an associate professor of sport psychology and coaching in the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences at The University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia. He is the director of the Australian Centre for Sport, Physical and Health Education Research (ACoSPHER) at UQ and co-chair for Research for the International Council for Coaching Excellence (ICCE).

Tristan Coulter is a lecturer with the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Queensland, Australia.

Address author correspondence to Clifford J. Mallett at
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