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Coaching Life Skills Development: Best Practices and High School Tennis Coach Exemplar

Sarah Carson Sackett and Lori A. Gano-Overway

Sport has the potential to foster the development of life skills, such as initiative, teamwork, emotion regulation, and goal setting, that transcend the fields and courts on which youth participate (Danish, Forneris, Hodge, & Heke, 2004). However, it is often acknowledged that this growth does not occur on its own. One factor that plays a central role in shaping positive sport experiences is the coach (Hellison & Cutforth, 1997). The purpose of this paper is to review the current literature on coaching strategies considered best practices for life skills development as well as to provide illustrative examples of many of these practices garnered from a case study of a model coach and the strategies he used in his high school tennis program. The paper concludes with additional practical considerations and recommendations for practitioners, coach educators, and scholars who continue to add to the body of knowledge regarding a coach’s role in positive youth development.

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A Qualitative Investigation of the Sibling Sport Achievement Experience

Jordan A. Blazo, Daniel R. Czech, Sarah Carson, and Windy Dees

Sibling relationships are often regarded as among the longest lasting connections in a person’s life (Conger & Kramer, 2010). Sibling research has addressed topics such as socialization, support, and similarities and differences of siblings (e.g., Eaton, Chipperfield, & Singbeil, 1989; Horn & Horn, 2007; Whiteman, McHale, & Crouter, 2007). Scant attention has been given to how a younger sibling may be influenced by an older sibling’s sport involvement. The current study explored the lived experience of an older sibling’s sport achievement from the perspective of a younger sibling. An open-ended phenomenological approach (Kvale, 1983) was used to gain a description of the experience of sibling achievements in sport. Participant interviews revealed an overall thematic structure consisting of both positive and negative experiences: family influence, social influence, fondness, identity, abandonment, and jealousy. These findings broaden both sibling and sport literature, while providing valuable information for researchers and practitioners.

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Stakeholders’ Perceptions of Social-Emotional and Life Skill Development Issues Characterizing Contemporary High School Sports

Daniel Gould, Sarah Carson, Angela Fifer, Larry Lauer, and Robert Benham

This study was designed to identify issues and concerns involved in contemporary school sports that are perceived as influencing sports’ potential to achieve educational and developmental objectives (e.g., psychosocial and life skill development). Eleven focus group interviews involving 67 participants were conducted with key constituency groups involved in high school athletics (coaches n=14, athletic directors n=20, school principals n=11, parents of current high school athletes n=11, and student-athletes n=21). Results were content analyzed using a three-person inductive consensus procedure and triangulated across constituency groups. Issues identified as concerns included: inappropriate behaviors in high school sport, increased expectations for success, ramifications of over-commitment, health issues, coaching and administrative issues, and unmet affiliation needs of athletes which impact the motivation. Findings are discussed relative to the professionalization of scholastic sports and threats to its developmental and educational potential. Implications for coaching education are emphasized.

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Program Evaluation of a University-Based Coach Education Program

Lori A. Gano-Overway, Sarah Carson Sackett, Janet Wigglesworth, and Madelynn E. Knight

This paper outlines how a program evaluation of a U.S. higher education coaching minor program was executed to clarify program needs and identify areas of improvement. Data were gathered from university students (n = 113), current minors (n = 13), program graduates (n = 26), coach education experts (n = 4), and community administrators/coaches (n = 13) using multiple methods including archival data collection, online surveys, and individual/group interviews. Descriptive statistics, curriculum mapping, and qualitative thematic analysis were used to document findings aligned with the CIPP (Context, Input, Process, Product) evaluation model. The context evaluation identified the target population, program goals, opportunities, barriers, and the highest priority programmatic needs. The input evaluation outlined themes highlighting the importance of understanding one’s context, incorporating evidence-based practices and teaching principles, aligning assessments with learning outcomes, establishing faculty buy-in, and advocating for the program. The process evaluation revealed programmatic alignment with national coaching standards with inconsistencies and the need to expand current content to achieve learning outcomes. The product evaluation showed that students acknowledged learning outcomes, were satisfied with the program, and felt ready to engage in coaching. Program graduates indicated preparedness to coach with some exceptions. The findings provided insight into how a multifaceted and targeted program evaluation can inform program improvements and next steps in the evaluation process.

Open access

The Preferred Coaching Styles of Generation Z Athletes: A Qualitative Study

Krisha Parker, Daniel Czech, Trey Burdette, Jonathan Stewart, David Biber, Lauren Easton, Caitlyn Pecinovsky, Sarah Carson, and Tyler McDaniel

With over 50 million youth athletes participating in some kind of sports in the United States alone, it is important to realize the impact and benefits of playing (Weinberg and Gould, 2011). Physically, sports can help youth improve strength, endurance, weight control, and bone structure (Seefeldt, Ewing & Walk, 1992). Sport participation also benefits youths socially (Seefeldt, Ewing & Walk, 1992) and academically (Fraser-Thomas, Côté & Deakin, 2005). Optimal coaching education and training is a necessity if young athletes are to learn and improve in these aforementioned areas. In order for youth to grow from their sport experience, they need guidance from coaches, parents, and other important figures. Recent research by Jones, Jo and Martin (2007) suggests that more recent generations require a new approach to learning. The purpose of the current study was to qualitatively examine the preferred coaching styles of youth soccer players from Generation Z. After interviewing 10 youth athletes (five male, five female), four main themes emerged for Generation Z’s view of a “great coach.” These themes reflected the desire for a coach that: 1) does not yell and remains calm, 2) is caring and encouraging, 3) has knowledge of the sport, and 4) involves the team in decision making. Future research could include implementing a mixed-methodological approach incorporating the Leadership Scale for Sport (Chelladurai, 1984). Another avenue worthy of investigation is the role that technology plays for Generation Z athletes.