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Athletes’ Perceptions of a Coach Who Faked Confidence

Barrett Wilson, Sandra E. Short, and Martin W. Short

This experimental study examined differences in athletes’ perceptions of a coach who faked confidence. The participants (n = 29) were elite hockey players from the Dallas Stars organization and North Dakota men’s hockey program. They completed a questionnaire after watching a video of a coach draw up a neutral zone forecheck. Participants then read a short scenario that explained that the coach was faking his confidence regarding his knowledge about the strategy he presented. The athletes then completed the same set of questions again. Paired-sample t-tests compared the athletes’ ratings before and after they were told that the coach was faking his confidence. The questions were about coach’s confidence (in general), the coach’s confidence in the strategy he presented, and the athlete’s perception that the coach would be confident in his ability to explain a different strategy. All values significantly decreased (p = .00) after the participants were told that the coach was faking confidence. From the qualitative data, three dimensions (i.e., confidence, knowledge, and presentation style) were prominent. These qualitative results provide insight as to why the athletes’ perceptions of the coach changed from positive (e.g., athletes’ perceived the coach was confident) to negative (e.g., athletes’ perceived that the coach was not confident) after finding out the coach was faking his confidence. Coaches should be aware that they can effectively fake confidence. However, if a coach were to fake it and “get caught,” then they should know that the athletes’ perceptions of them may become negative quickly.