The purpose of the study was to determine if preferences of athletes for training and instruction (task-oriented) behavior and social support (relationship-oriented) behavior would vary with athletic maturity (operationalized in terms of level of competition). Basketball players from high school midget (n = 67), junior (n = 63), and senior (n = 63) divisions and university (n = 69) completed the “preferred leader behavior” version of the Leadership Scale for Sports. Trend analyses revealed the presence of a quadratic trend in preference for training and instruction which progressively decreased from high school midget, through junior to senior levels and increased at the university level; however, the direction of this trend was opposite to that predicted. A linear trend was obtained for social support which progressively increased from the high school midget level to the university level but, again, it was in a direction opposite than that predicted. It was noted that future research should incorporate both a wide range of competition levels and groups with markedly different levels of success in order to determine the interrelationship between leadership preference and athletic maturity. It was also noted, however, that sport as a social system may not afford athletes an opportunity to achieve athletic maturity.
Request for reprints should be sent to P. Chelladurai and A.V. Carron, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.