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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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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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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.