Understanding the Use of Emotionally Abusive Coaching Practices

  • Stirling A
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The purpose of this study was to explore coaches' reflections on their previous use of emotionally abusive practices in the coach-athlete relationship. Participants included seven male and two female coaches who were coaching at the national or international level within Canada. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with each participant, and data were coded using inductive coding techniques. From the raw data, a number of main themes emerged including: descriptions of emotional abuse, perceived reasons for using emotionally abusive coaching behaviours, the benevolence of the coach, and perceived reasons for change in coaching behaviour. Findings are interpreted to suggest two distinct origins of emotional abuse. Additionally, based on the coaches' reflections on perceived reasons for why they no longer use emotionally abusive practices, determinants of change in coach behaviour are proposed. Applied and theoretical recommendations are discussed. INTRODUCTION Within the field of sport psychology, examinations of the dynamics and influence of the coach-athlete relationship have increased steadily over the years 1 . Recent investigations have reported the determinants of an effective coach-athlete relationship 2,3 , contribution of the coach-athlete relationship to optimal athletic functioning 4 , and the influence of the coach-athlete relationship on an athlete's sport experience and development as a person beyond sport 5,6 . Part of what we have learned is that these influences are not always positive 7-9 . In some sporting situations, poor teaching by the coach and uncaring, unfair, or inappropriate coaching transgressions do occur 10-13 . These poor coaching practices have been described by athletes as being distracting, engendering self-doubt, demotivating, dividing the team, and can potentially lead to dropout from sport 14 . Furthermore, a body of literature has begun to

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  • Ashley E. Stirling

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