Little League Baseball coaches were exposed to a preseason training program designed to assist them in relating more effectively to children. Empirically derived behavioral guidelines were presented and modeled, and behavioral feedback and self-monitoring were used to enhance self-awareness and to encourage compliance with the guidelines. Trained coaches differed from controls in both overt and player-perceived behaviors in a manner consistent with the behavioral guidelines. They were also evaluated more positively by their players, and a higher level of intrateam attraction was found on their teams despite the fact that they did not differ from controls in won-lost records. Children who played for the trained coaches exhibited a significant increase in general self-esteem compared with scores obtained a year earlier; control group children did not. The greatest differences in attitudes toward trained and control coaches were found among children low in self-esteem, and such children appeared most sensitive to variations in coaches' use of encouragement, punishment, and technical instruction.
This research was supported by Grant MH 24248 from the National Institute of Mental Health. The contributions of Earl Hunt, David Coppel, and Nolan Zane are gratefully acknowledged, as is the cooperation of Little League Baseball, Inc., Washington District 8 (H. E. Pohlman, District Administrator).