“It’s Not Just Your Dad, It’s Not Just Your Coach…” The Dual-Relationship in Female Tennis Players

in The Sport Psychologist
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  • 1 University of Bern
  • 2 West Virginia University
  • 3 University of Louisville
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Tennis has been identified as an ideal context for examining the dynamics of parenting and coaching relationships (Gould et al., 2008) but coaching dual-role relationships remain unexplored in this sport and related investigations only included volunteer coaches (Jowett, 2008; Harwood & Knight, 2012). An open-ended interview approach was used to examine how female tennis players previously coached by their fathers (professional coaches) before competing in college tennis perceived their experiences with the dual-role relationship and the coaching transition. A holistic narrative approach was used to reconstruct retrospectively the stories of the participants’ experiences and understand their development. Despite some beneficial aspects, a majority of participants emphasized their challenging experiences with regards to their needs to manage blurred boundaries, receive paternal approval, and endure their fathers’ controlling and abusive behaviors. Coaching transitions helped normalize father-daughter relationships and provided insight into the respective needs that were fulfilled through the dual-role relationships.

Schmid is with the Institute of Sport Science, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland. Bernstein is with the College of Education and Human Services, and Rishell and Griffith the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV. Shannon was with the Dept. of Athletic and Personal Development, IMG Academy at the time of this research and is now with the University of Louisville Athletics, Louisville KY.

Address author correspondence to Olivier N. Schmid at schmidolivier@yahoo.fr.