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Real-World Experiences of the Coaching Pathos: Orchestration of NCAA Division I Sport

Tucker Readdy, Rebecca Zakrajsek, and Johannes Raabe

Sport coaching is marked by a pathos created by limited control and limited awareness, contradictory beliefs, and novelty. Still, coaches can enhance the likelihood of optimal outcomes through orchestration, a process marked by unobtrusive, flexible actions that enhance athletes’ ability to work toward competitive goals (Jones & Wallace, 2005). This research sought to create a detailed understanding of pathos and orchestration in collegiate coaching. Participants were 10 head coaches from National Collegiate Athletic Association universities. Analysis of semistructured interviews produced four themes: (a) true control is limited but attempted control is extensive, (b) orchestration strategies are varied in context and method, (c) relationships enhance the effectiveness of the orchestration process, and (d) planning the next step allows for relative stability in the pathos. These results expand our understanding of pathos and orchestration, suggesting the concepts have promise in educating coaches about sources of adversity and the means to mitigate them.

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An Exploration of National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Assistant Coaches’ Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction and Frustration

Johannes Raabe, Kim Tolentino, and Tucker Readdy

According to basic psychological needs theory, the quality of individuals’ cognition, affect, and behavior is determined by their perceptions of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. The purpose of this study was to investigate National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I assistant coaches’ basic psychological need satisfaction and frustration and the respective influence of the behavior of the head coach for whom they work on those perceptions. A total of N = 445 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I assistant coaches (191 women and 254 men; M age = 34.9 ± 9.6 years) participated in the research. Participants reported relatively high levels of both satisfaction and frustration (i.e., compared with previous research) for all three basic psychological needs. A structural equation model (root mean square error of approximation = .06; comparative fit index = .95; Tucker–Lewis index = .95; standardized root mean square residual = .04) indicated that participants’ need satisfaction was significantly associated with the degree to which they perceived their head coaches to engage in need-supportive, need-thwarting, and need-indifferent behavior. Similarly, perceived need-supportive and need-thwarting behavior was also related with assistant coaches’ sense of need frustration. Findings highlight not only the importance of head coaches in shaping assistant coaches’ psychological functioning but also multiple important avenues for future research.

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“No Days Off”: Using Self-Determination Theory to Better Understand Workaholism in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Coaches

Kim Tolentino, Tucker Readdy, and Johannes Raabe

Workaholism (i.e., working excessively and compulsively) is associated with negative physical, psychological, and social consequences. Researchers have previously examined antecedents of workaholism, but the experiences of sport coaches have not yet been investigated. This study explored (a) differences in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I coaches’ workaholism, as well as need satisfaction and frustration based on gender, coaching role, gender of athletes coached, age, and years of coaching experience; and (b) how coaches’ perceptions of their three basic psychological needs are associated with tendencies to work excessively and compulsively. A total of 873 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I coaches participated in the research. Data analyses revealed significant differences in participants’ workaholism as well as need satisfaction and frustration. Structural equation modeling indicated a significant relationship between reported levels of workaholism and perceptions of the three needs. Findings illustrate the importance of basic psychological needs in preventing coaches’ workaholism and maintain optimal functioning.

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Coaches’ Use of Need-Supportive and Need-Thwarting Behaviors Across the Developmental Continuum: A Qualitative Investigation in Figure Skating

Diane Benish, Tucker Readdy, and Johannes Raabe

There is extensive evidence illustrating the influence of coach behavior on athletes’ perceived basic psychological needs. However, much of that research has been conducted with athletes of similar developmental stages (i.e., children, adolescents, or adults). In sports such as figure skating, coach–athlete relationships often span several years and developmental stages; yet, researchers have not comprehensively investigated whether coaches consider athletes’ physical, social, self, cognitive, and emotional development in their interpersonal style. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore (a) what need-supportive and/or need-thwarting behaviors coaches use with athletes in different developmental age groups and (b) whether coaches’ use of need-supportive and need-thwarting behaviors was developmentally appropriate based on theoretical implications and empirical evidence grounded in both developmental and self-determination theory. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 13 coach–athlete dyads (13 coaches and 13 athletes) across four age groups: middle childhood (6–10 years), early adolescent (11–14 years), mid-adolescent (15–17 years), and early adulthood (18–25 years). Deductive reflexive thematic analysis of the 26 interviews revealed four themes highlighting (a) competence-supportive, (b) autonomy-supportive, (c) relatedness-supportive, and (d) need-thwarting behaviors. There were both consistencies and variations in coaches’ use of those behaviors across the four age groups.

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Exploring the Synergy Between Sport Education and In-School Sport Participation

Alex Knowles, Tristan L. Wallhead, and Tucker Readdy

One of the primary goals of physical education is for students to gain the motivation to continue to be physically active outside of curriculum time. The purpose of this study was to use a case study approach to examine elementary students’ responses to Sport Education and how it influenced their choice to participate in the same sports during lunch recess. The Trans-Contextual Model of motivation (TCM) was used as a deductive lens to qualitatively examine this synergy. Findings revealed that Sport Education was effective in satisfying the students’ basic psychological needs in physical education and specifically promoting male students’ participation in the lunch recess context. Sport Education has the potential to promote trans-contextual participation if students’ autonomy support is also facilitated within the extra-curricular sport context.

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

Johannes Raabe, Tucker Readdy, and Rebecca A. Zakrajsek

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.

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Evaluating a Multiplier Approach to Coach Education Within the German Football Association’s Talent Development Program: An Example of an Intervention Study Targeting Need-Supportive Coaching

Svenja Wachsmuth, Johannes Raabe, Tucker Readdy, Damir Dugandzic, and Oliver Höner

Coaches are among the most important agents for young football talents’ development. Their coaching style may impact not only players’ skill acquisition but also their motivation to meet their full potential. This study begins by presenting an intervention promoting need-supportive coaching to facilitate holistic talent development within the German Football Association (Deutscher Fußball-Bund [DFB]). The intervention was grounded in Deci and Ryan’s self-determination theory and designed as a hybrid model of coach education (i.e., online and in-present elements). In addition, DFB competence center coordinators were utilized as multipliers to reach a large population of approximately 1,300 coaches across Germany. The specific aim of this paper is to examine how these coordinators experienced the development and implementation process of the intervention. Utilizing a mixed-methods approach, coordinators’ satisfaction and experiences with the intervention were evaluated via a quantitative online survey (n = 23) and qualitative follow-up interviews (n = 8). Overall, the findings suggest that the presented approach may be suitable to address potential barriers in coach education, such as gaining coaches’ buy-in, transferring scientific knowledge into practice, and supporting long-term behavioral modifications in coaches. Specific recommendations (e.g., knowledge translation, gaining buy-in) for designing future interventions are highlighted.