The aim of this study was to explore the lived experiences of the coach in relation to the perceived function of captains in professional rugby union. Participants were 8 elite male rugby coaches purposely sampled for this study. Participants were interviewed individually to gain an understanding of their experiences and perceptions of the role of the captain. The data were thematically analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Ten superordinate themes emerged in the study: types of captain, captain development, challenges, captains role, off-field responsibilities, nature of the job, selection, cultural architects, coach–captain relationship, and key attributes. Results suggest that coaches view the captain as an extension of their authority in the team, leadership groups are increasingly important to support captains, and the criteria for the selection of captains are still vague. As a result, future research should explore the development of specific evidence-based approaches to captain selection and development.
Stewart Cotterill, Richard Cheetham, and Katrien Fransen
Katrien Fransen, Norbert Vanbeselaere, Bert De Cuyper, Pete Coffee, Matthew J. Slater, and Filip Boen
Research on the effect of athlete leadership on precursors of team performance such as team confidence is sparse. To explore the underlying mechanisms of how athlete leaders impact their team’s confidence, an online survey was completed by 2,867 players and coaches from nine different team sports in Flanders (Belgium). We distinguished between two types of team confidence: collective efficacy, assessed by the CEQS subscales of effort, persistence, preparation, and unity; and team outcome confidence, measured by the ability subscale. The results demonstrated that the perceived quality of athlete leaders was positively related to participants’ team outcome confidence. The present findings are the first in sport settings to highlight the potential value of collective efficacy and team identification as underlying processes. Because high-quality leaders strengthen team members’ identification with the team, the current study also provides initial evidence for the applicability of the identity based leadership approach in sport settings.
Katrien Fransen, Stef Van Puyenbroeck, Todd M. Loughead, Norbert Vanbeselaere, Bert De Cuyper, Gert Vande Broek, and Filip Boen
This research aimed to introduce social network analysis as a novel technique in sports teams to identify the attributes of high-quality athlete leadership, both at the individual and at the team level. Study 1 included 25 sports teams (N = 308 athletes) and focused on athletes’ general leadership quality. Study 2 comprised 21 sports teams (N = 267 athletes) and focused on athletes’ specific leadership quality as a task, motivational, social, and external leader. The extent to which athletes felt connected with their leader proved to be most predictive for athletes’ perceptions of that leader’s quality on each leadership role. Also at the team level, teams with higher athlete leadership quality were more strongly connected. We conclude that social network analysis constitutes a valuable tool to provide more insight in the attributes of high-quality leadership both at the individual and at the team level.