Effects of Enhancing Coach-Athlete Relationships on Youth Sport Attrition

in The Sport Psychologist
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  • 1 University of Washington
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A field experiment was conducted to examine the impact of the Coach Effectiveness Training program on athlete attrition. Eight Little League Baseball coaches attended a preseason sport psychology workshop designed to facilitate desirable coach-athlete interactions. A no-treatment control group consisted of 10 coaches. Children who played for both groups of coaches were interviewed before and after the season and were contacted again the following year. At the end of the initial season, children in the experimental group evaluated their coaches, teammates, and the sport of baseball more positively than children who played for the control-group coaches. Player attrition was assessed at the beginning of the next baseball season, with control-group youngsters withdrawing at a significantly higher rate (26%) than those in the experimental group (5% dropout rate). There was no difference in mean team won-lost percentages between dropouts and returning players, which indicates that the attrition was not due to lack of team success.

Nancy P. Barnett is a doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at the University of Washington. Frank L. Smoll and Ronald E. Smith are with the Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195. Request reprints from Frank L. Smoll.

This study was based on a master’s thesis conducted by N. Barnett under the direction of F. Smoll. Both phases of the research were supported by Grant 86-1066-86 from the William T. Grant Foundation. We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of Little League Baseball, Washington District 8, the assistance of John J. Everett in the data collection, and the contributions of the undergraduate research assistants who served as trained interviewers.

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