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Darren Ritchie and Justine Allen

How coaches prepare and perform is critical for athletes’ performances (Gould, Guinan, Greenleaf & Chung, 2002), however, little is known about coaches’ roles and coaching practices during major competitions such as the Olympic or Paralympic Games. To assist coaches in their efforts to improve athletes’ performances in competition environments, greater understanding is needed about the coaching process during major competitions and how coaches prepare and perform. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to examine track and field coaches’ perceptions of their roles and coaching practices during competition at major events. Eight coaches, seven male and one female, who had coached one or more athletes to an Olympic or Paralympic medal were interviewed. Inductive content analysis indicated that creating an athlete focused supportive environment, detailed preparation and planning, use of effective observation and limited intervention, coach and athlete psychological preparation and managing the process were salient during competition at major events. These findings suggest that during major competition the coach’s role is supportive and facilitative. Actions are largely unobtrusive and in response to athletes’ needs, but remain as detailed as other phases of the coaching process. The findings are discussed in relation to the coach as orchestrator.

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Stephen Macdonald and Justine Allen

The purpose of this study was to examine the coach-created talent development motivational climate in Canoe Slalom in the United Kingdom using achievement goal theory, self-determination theory and transformational leadership. The participants were six (five male, one female) full-time Canoe Slalom talent development coaches and 24 athletes (13 male, 11 female). A multidimensional, mixed methods approach examined participants’ perceptions of the motivational climate, transformational leadership behaviours, coaching practices, and coaching philosophies. Data were collected through questionnaires, interviews, and systematic observation. A summary of the coaching climate, practices, and philosophy was developed for each coach based on the perspectives of the athletes, coach, and observer. These were then compared and commonalities and differences amongst the coach-created climates were identified. The coaches created a motivationally adaptive (structured, relatedness supportive, individually-focused, task-involved) talent development motivational climate. However, the coaches varied in the extent to which the climate was autonomy supportive and intellectually stimulating. Analysis of the coaching climates using a learning continuums framework revealed two distinct forms of climate: behaviourist/structure and humanistic/agency. The implications for talent development and key stakeholders are discussed.

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Doug Cooper and Justine Allen

In contrast to cross-sectional age trends of declining adult participation in sport, engagement in adventure sports is increasing among adults. The coach may have an important role to play in shaping the motivational climate to encourage and retain participants in adventure sport. The purpose of this study was to provide an in-depth examination of the coach-created motivational climate in noncompetition focused adult adventure sport by adopting a multiple methods approach. The study was grounded in a multidimensional theoretical perspective that combines achievement goal theory and self-determination theory. Questionnaires, interviews, and observations of coaching sessions were employed to assess coaches’ (N = 6), participants’ (N = 25), and observers’ perspectives on the empowering and disempowering nature and features of coaching sessions. Analysis of the data demonstrated consistent views that the coaches created a strongly empowering and only weakly disempowering climate. Insight was gained about why and how coaches created this climate, as well as the challenges they experienced in maintaining an empowering climate for adults in adventure sport contexts. The place of structure, control, relatedness support, and coaches’ philosophies are discussed.

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Justine B. Allen and Sally Shaw

Researchers have argued that coaches are performers in their own right and that their psychological needs should be considered (Giges, Petitpas, & Vernacchia, 2004; Gould, Greenleaf, Guinan, & Chung, 2002). The purpose of this research was to examine high performance women coaches’ perceptions of their sport organizations’ social context, with specific attention to psychological need support. Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Ryan & Deci, 2002) was employed to frame the examination of the coaches’ experiences. Eight high performance women coaches from two sport organizations participated in semistructured interviews. All reported autonomy and competence development opportunities. Organizational relatedness was critical to the experience of a supportive environment. The findings provide insight into the “world of coaching” from the coaches’ perspective.

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Lorcan D. Cronin and Justine B. Allen

The present study explored the relationships between the coaching climate, youth developmental experiences (personal and social skills, cognitive skills, goal setting, and initiative) and psychological well-being (self-esteem, positive affect, and satisfaction with life). In total, 202 youth sport participants (Mage = 13.4, SD = 1.8) completed a survey assessing the main study variables. Findings were consistent with Benson and Saito’s (2001) framework for youth development. In all analyses, the coaching climate was related to personal and social skills, cognitive skills, goal setting, and initiative. Mediational analysis also revealed that the development of personal and social skills mediated the relationships between the coaching climate and all three indices of psychological well-being (self-esteem, positive affect, and satisfaction with life). Interpretation of the results suggests that coaches should display autonomy-supportive coaching behaviors because they are related to the developmental experiences and psychological well-being of youth sport participants.