Caring in Coaching: A Tale of Two Coach-Athlete Relationships
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The purpose of this research was to further explore the principle of care within a sports coaching context. Specifically, an autoethnographical approach was utilised to highlight how the presence and absence of a caring element within two separate coach-athlete relationships affected my, a professional football player’s, physical and mental well-being. Each unique coach-athlete relationship was based around two critical incidents (presented as short stories) which aimed to provide a snapshot of my broader experience working with these coaches. Critical incidents one and two (‘The Meeting’ and ‘An Unwanted Christmas Present’) focused on a coach-athlete relationship where a caring element was absent and highlighted the negative effects this had on my thoughts, feelings towards the sport and the relationship itself. Critical incidents three and four (‘Back to It’ and ‘A Dream Come True’) focused on a coach-athlete relationship where a caring element was present and highlighted how this facilitated my development as both an athlete and person within and outside of the sporting environment. In concurrence with previous research, the findings of the study suggest that a caring coach honours the best interests of their athlete, has regular and effective contact with them, displays empathy and unconditional positive regard towards them, and supports them as a performer and as a human being.
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