Examination of Novice Coaches’ Previous Experience as Athletes: Examples of Autonomy Support and Controlling Behaviors as Influences on Future Coaching Practice

in International Sport Coaching Journal
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  • 1 Georgia Southern University
  • | 2 Kennesaw State University
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As part of a coach’s informal learning process, previous athletic experience is a foundational element of an athlete’s future coaching career, determining the perspectives, beliefs, and behaviors the coach will use in their interactions with athletes. Although it is investigated more generally, previous athletic experience is rarely considered in understanding specific coaching behaviors related to supporting athletes’ needs and motivation. This study investigated 15 novice coaches’ personal athletic and coaching experiences to determine how these experiences influenced their own coaching practice with regard to the engagement in autonomy-supportive and/or controlling behaviors. The interview data revealed that novice coaches used their past experiences to inform their practice in the following three ways: (a) experienced controlling behaviors as an athlete, which transferred to a desire to be more autonomy supportive in coaching; (b) experienced controlling behaviors as an athlete, which transferred to a desire to be more controlling in coaching; and (c) experienced autonomy-supportive behaviors as an athlete, which transferred to a desire to be more autonomy supportive in coaching. These results suggest the importance of considering previous athletic experience as an antecedent to coaches’ engagement in autonomy-supportive behaviors.

Benish and Langdon are with Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA, USA. Culp is with Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA, USA.

Langdon (jlangdon@georgiasouthern.edu) is corresponding author.
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