Pathos and Orchestration in Elite Sport: The Experiences of NCAA DI Student-Athletes

in The Sport Psychologist
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  • 1 Penn State Altoona
  • | 2 University of Wyoming
  • | 3 University of Tennessee
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Coaching is characterized by an inherent pathos between the goals coaches hope to accomplish and those that are realized (Jones & Wallace, 2005). Coaches can actively enhance the likelihood of optimal outcomes through orchestration, a process of incremental coping intended to create improvement in performance (Jones & Wallace, 2005). The current study explored to what extent pathos also manifests in the lives of elite athletes and whether they engage in processes consistent with orchestration. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I student-athletes. Primarily deductive analysis of the qualitative data provided confirmation for four domains: (a) sources of ambiguity created by coaches, (b) other sources of ambiguity within student-athletes’ experiences, (c) attempted strategies for orchestrating the pathos, and (d) relationships are crucial for navigating the pathos. The findings potentially offer an approach to understanding the challenges athletes face, which allows coaches to more accurately provide assistance.

Raabe is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, Penn State Altoona, Altoona, PA. Readdy is with the Kinesiology & Health Dept., University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY. Zakrajsek is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, Recreation, & Sport Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN.

Address author correspondence to Johannes Raabe at
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