Effective Coaching in Action: Observations of Legendary Collegiate Basketball Coach Pat Summitt

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Andrea J. Becker California State University, Fullerton

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Craig A. Wrisberg University of Tennessee

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The purpose of this study was to systematically examine the practice behaviors of Pat Summitt, the winningest collegiate basketball coach in NCAA Division I history. Throughout the 2004–05 season, Summitt’s verbal and nonverbal behaviors were video recorded during six practices. A total of 3,296 behaviors were observed and coded using the Arizona State University Observation Instrument (Lacy & Darst, 1984). Results indicated that 55% (n = 1810) of Summitt’s behaviors were directed toward the team, whereas 45% (n = 1,486) were directed toward individual players. The most frequent behavior was instruction (48%, n = 1,586) followed by praise (14.5%, n = 478) and hustle (10.7%, n = 351). Contrary to predictions, no differences were found in the quantity or quality of the coaching behaviors that Summitt directed toward high and low expectancy players.

Becker is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, California State University, Fullerton, CA 92834-6870. Wrisberg is with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-2700.

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