Andy Gillham and Craig Stone
Elite athletes strive for a superior state of psychological functioning to achieve peak performance, and peak performance is the central construct of this study. Peak performance as a phenomenon is a state of superior functioning allowing athletes to perform at their highest levels, attaining outstanding results. The purpose of this study was to understand the phenomenon of peak performance through semistructured interviews with 16 elite-level American football players. Four higher-order themes divided into mental, physical, emotional, and sensory elements. Those themes are supported by 18 lower-level categories. Findings were largely consistent with previous research despite this being the first study to include American football players. A specific noteworthy conclusion is the connection between mental and physical components that provides ample opportunities for both researchers and applied practitioners. In addition, the participant quotes prompted a return to the discussion of the connection between individual zones of optimal functioning, peak performance, and flow states.
Andy Gillham, Eva Gillham, and Keith Hansen
This study examined relationships among coaching success, servant leadership, team cohesion, athlete resilience and social behaviors utilizing responses from over 300 collegiate athletes. Horn’s (2008) model of coaching effectiveness served as the basis from which variables were operationalized and concurrently measured. Bivariate correlation analysis identified significant correlations among servant leadership and coaching success, cohesion and coaching success, cohesion and servant leadership, resilience and coaching success, and resilience and servant leadership, with most relationships moderate to weak. Canonical correlations were used to examine the data in greater depth and significant canonical variants revealed both expected and unexpected relationships. Multivariate analysis of variance results identified a significant main effect and seven significant follow-up analysis of variance tests. Athlete resilience, coach servant leadership and task-based team cohesion all varied significantly across the three levels of coaching success. Results of this study can be used by coaches, athletic administrators and coach educators for coach development.
Andy Gillham, Keith Hansen, and Connor Brady
Coaches are evaluated and judged on a large number of factors (Gillham, Burton, & Gillham, 2013). The purpose of this paper is to describe the views of three different professionals on coach evaluation. An athletic director and a coach from different Canadian colleges and a coaching consultant responded to the same series of questions regarding coach evaluation at the college level. Across the three professionals, the views expressed are more similar than dissimilar, with each professional emphasizing a different piece of the coach evaluation process. The information presented aligns both with coaching standards in the United States and at the International level. Stakeholder views are compared with the coaching science literature and recommendations for athletic directors and coaching scientists are provided.
Andy Gillham and Christoph Szedlak
Researchers highlight the importance of using constructivist, learner-centered approaches to develop effective strength and conditioning (S&C) coaching practice, such as reflective practice and community of practice. Such approaches are relational meaning that the S&C coach developer must build effective relationships with the learner (i.e., S&C coach) to enhance cooperation and engagement, which can take a considerable amount of time. Constructivist learning strategies are essential to develop an athlete-centered coaching approach, which focuses on developing not only performance but also the overall well-being of the athlete. Yet, there has been a considerable lack of evidence of how to integrate and utilize reflective practice and community of practice within S&C coach development, as well as documenting their impact. This practical advance article aims to address this knowledge-to-action gap by examining how a S&C coach developer, who is paid by and in situ working with an organization, implemented an effective longitudinal, learner-centered coach development program to promote athlete-centered coaching practice. In doing so, we outline the importance of relationship building, creating community, and trust, which underlines the organic process that seamlessly integrates guided critical reflection and community of practices as valued learning strategies to develop S&C coaches’ psychosocial skills.
Andy Gillham, Gary Schofield, Michael Doscher, Dan Dalrymple, and Joe Kenn
Traditional examinations of coaching philosophies consider the perspective of sport coaches (e.g., soccer, cricket, rugby). The focus on sport coaches’ coaching philosophy has advanced the study of coaching effectiveness while simultaneously omitting strength and conditioning coaches from the larger body of literature on coaching philosophy. The purpose of this paper is to reveal how award winning strength and conditioning coaches shape and use their coaching philosophy. The participants include four renowned strength and conditioning coaches, one at the high school, one at the college, and two at the professional level. A summary is provided at the end that examines commonalities (e.g., all the respondents expressed the need to have a specific coaching philosophy) and differences (e.g., how discipline factors into their coaching philosophy) across the respondents’ views and connects their viewpoints to the broader literature on sport coaching.
Andy Gillham, Michael Doscher, Jim Krumpos, Michelle Martin Diltz, Nate Moe, Shepard Allen, and Reese Bridgeman
Strength and conditioning coaches are routinely considered key members of the team working to prepare athletes for sport competitions. This has led to substantial confusion over the roles of strength and conditioning coaches and their working relationship with sport coaches. For example, when detailing their job tasks strength and conditioning coaches have described ineffective and stressful relationships with the sport coaches with whom they work. The purpose of this paper is to present information from college strength and conditioning coaches specific to their working relationship with sport coaches. Fulltime strength and conditioning coaches representing all National Collegiate Athletic Association divisions in the United States responded to a series of 10 questions. The respondents provided a variety of examples detailing their experiences working with sport coaches and provided advice both for strength and conditioning and sport coaches to improve the working relationship for the betterment of the athletes.