The Coach-Athlete Relationship:Athletes' Perceptions within a University Rugby Football Club
University of Wales
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The main aim of the study was to establish a variety of perceptions from undergraduate rugby players that related to the notion of coach-athlete relationships. The rationale of the study was to effectively relate the findings with the themes identified in order to generate knowledge to help inform coaches of certain factors that can undermine their relationships. Therefore, their athletes can become more independent, self-reliant, disciplined and successful athletes and persons (Jowett, 2009). A mixed-method approach was used to collect the data, as a means of a grounded theory approach whereby the quantitative data helped assist the means of conducting the qualitative procedure. Eight week questionnaires were conducted to gather the quantitative information and semi structured interviews were conducted in order to gather the qualitative information. The participants used in the questionnaires [n=18] were from the same rugby environment but represented different teams, therefore they experienced various coaches. The participants were shortened for the interviewing process [n=6] in order to gain more insightful information. The results found that relationships were experienced greater amongst the higher teams and with the older players, mainly because coaches were perceived to be more available and forthcoming at the higher teams. Results also indicated that fresher players in particular were apprehensive and intimidated by the environment and with the coaches. Therefore emerging themes indicated that feedback, athlete-centred relationships, a motivational climate and power relationships all contributed to the notion of effective coach-athlete relationships from a wide variety of perceptions. The main conclusions suggested that in order for coaches to be effective, they need to get to know their athletes as individuals in order to make them familiar with the environment and improve working relationships.
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