An Exploration of National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Assistant Coaches’ Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction and Frustration

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Johannes Raabe College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA

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Kim Tolentino College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA

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Tucker Readdy Division of Kinesiology and Health, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, USA

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According to basic psychological needs theory, the quality of individuals’ cognition, affect, and behavior is determined by their perceptions of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. The purpose of this study was to investigate National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I assistant coaches’ basic psychological need satisfaction and frustration and the respective influence of the behavior of the head coach for whom they work on those perceptions. A total of N = 445 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I assistant coaches (191 women and 254 men; Mage = 34.9 ± 9.6 years) participated in the research. Participants reported relatively high levels of both satisfaction and frustration (i.e., compared with previous research) for all three basic psychological needs. A structural equation model (root mean square error of approximation = .06; comparative fit index = .95; Tucker–Lewis index = .95; standardized root mean square residual = .04) indicated that participants’ need satisfaction was significantly associated with the degree to which they perceived their head coaches to engage in need-supportive, need-thwarting, and need-indifferent behavior. Similarly, perceived need-supportive and need-thwarting behavior was also related with assistant coaches’ sense of need frustration. Findings highlight not only the importance of head coaches in shaping assistant coaches’ psychological functioning but also multiple important avenues for future research.

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