This study examines young athletes from an urban sport organization, looking at their overall perceptions of their coaches, perceptions of the best and worst coaching actions, behaviors, and attitudes, and how these varied between practice and game environments. Twenty-three athletes (10 males, 13 females) between the ages of 10 and 18 years participated in semi-structured, qualitative interviews. Content analysis of the interviews indicated that these young athletes preferred a positive coaching orientation with a mastery-oriented environment, while the coaches identified as the worst generally fostered an outcome-oriented environment with a negative coaching orientation. These findings suggest that coaching educators should feel confident about using the guidelines provided by Smith, Smoll, and colleagues (Smith, Smoll, & Curtis, 1979; Smith, Smoll, & Barnett, 1995; Smoll, Smith, Barnett, & Everett, 1993) when working in underserved settings with children and youth. The need for future research in this area is discussed, along with future research directions on the link between youth developmental outcomes, perceptions of coaching behaviors, and observed coaching behaviors.
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This study was part of a three-year external evaluation grant of the TDP program. Funding for the project came from TDP and the foundations which support it.