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Mastery, Autonomy and Transformational Approaches to Coaching: Common Features and Applications

Stewart A. Vella and Dana J. Perlman

The purpose of this paper is to provide a concise resource for coaches, coach educators, and coaching scientists by reviewing three common approaches to coaching: the mastery approach to coaching; autonomy-supportive coaching; and the transformational leadership approach to coaching. The theoretical foundations, purpose, evidence base, specifed behaviours, and translation into coaching and coach education of each approach are reviewed. Despite diverse theoretical foundations and variations in purpose, there is some overlap in the coaching behaviours prescribed by each approach. However, there is limited empirical evidence to support the use of the three approaches in coach education and this is detrimental to effective and evidence-based coach education. Efforts to integrate theoretical foundations are promising, and a comprehensive prescription of coaching behaviours based on an integration of the three approaches is possible. This approach can potentially lead to cumulative effects on positive athlete outcomes. Future research should elucidate the common and unique contributions of these approaches to athletes’ outcomes, and whether they differ by age, sex, type of sport, or competition level.

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Mental Health Literacy Workshop for Youth Sport Coaches: A Mixed-Methods Pilot Study

Breanna J. Drew, Jordan T. Sutcliffe, Sarah K. Liddle, Mark W. Bruner, Colin D. McLaren, Christian Swann, Matthew J. Schweickle, and Stewart A. Vella

Among other responsibilities, youth sport coaches are positioned to monitor and address the mental health needs of their athletes. Despite this, there are limited interventions aimed at improving coaches’ mental health literacy. Using a mixed-methods design, the aim of this pilot study was to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and mental health literacy outcomes associated with a brief (75 min) workshop for youth sport coaches. Fourteen coaches (13 males, one female) completed pre- and postworkshop surveys measuring indices of mental health literacy, and 10 of these same participants engaged in a semistructured interview 1-month later. Overall, coaches who participated in the pilot workshop reported significant improvements in depression literacy, intentions to seek self-help for oneself and their athletes, and knowledge and confidence to provide help. In addition, coaches reported positive impressions of the workshop during the follow-up interviews and provided concrete examples of program content application. An important suggestion made by coaches was the need to align the workshop content to governing policy. Taken together, this pilot mental health literacy workshop for youth sport coaches shows strong promise and is ready for large-scale dissemination.