Studying perceived autonomy support, a basic tenet of self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000), provides some understanding as to how coaches can more positively influence youth athletes to enjoy and persist in youth sport. Borrowing insights from success in physical education and coaching-oriented interventions, the purpose of this paper was to highlight positive aspects and challenges of an innovative youth sport autonomy supportive training program for coaches. Positives included the initial training session and the use of an online training component. Challenges were the structure of the season, other coaches, and possibly the age of the athletes. Future training programs in youth sport coaching should increase in duration, provide specific examples of how to implement autonomy supportive coaching behaviors, as well as address solutions to the time constraints of the youth sport setting.
Jody Langdon is currently an assistant professor at Georgia Southern University. She has conducted extensive research on the application on Self-Determination Theory in sport coaching, physical education, and collegiate physical activity programs. She is currently the senior associate editor of the Chronicle of Kinesiology in Higher Education. She is a member of the National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education and the Society for Health and Physical Educators.
Brandonn S. Harris is currently an associate professor and program director of sport and exercise psychology at Georgia Southern University. He has published and presented extensively in the areas of youth sport, ethical issues in sport psychology, and sport burnout. He is a member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) and the American Psychological Association. He is an AASP-Certified Consultant and is also listed on the USOC’s Sport Psychology Registry.
Trey Burdette is an assistant professor of coaching education in the Department of Health and Kinesiology at Georgia Southern University. He earned his Ed.D. in educational leadership from Georgia Southern University, studying coaching behavior and leadership. He also received his M.S. in health and kinesiology from GSU in 2003, specializing in coaching behavior. His primary teaching responsibilities are in the undergraduate coaching education program and his research topics include sport performance, sport leadership, and concussions.
Sara Rothberger is a doctoral student in sport and exercise psychology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she has been awarded teaching and research assistantships, and is working on program design for a post-bariatric surgery weight loss program. She is an active member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) and the North American Society for Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA).