Exploring Youth Athletes Preferred Leadership Styles and Behaviours of Sport Coaches
A coach holds responsibility as a parent does at home, or a teacher in the classroom. The consideration of young athletes’ preferences of their coach can aid in the development of life skills, positive development, and retention of youth in sport; which are only some of the outcomes and benefits from experiences gained throughout sport programs (Carson & Gould, 2010). Previous research has mainly focused on high school aged athletes (14+). However, the highest rates of sport participation, variety, and dropout are found at younger ages (Canadian Heritage, 2013). This research was designed to address this gap. One hundred and sixteen (86 female, 49 male) youth sport athletes (age range 10-14 years) across 19 different sports completed a modified Leadership for Sports Scale (LSS) questionnaire. The LSS assesses five factors of preferred coach behaviour - Positive Feedback, Teaching and Instruction, Autocratic Behaviour, Democratic Behaviour, and Social Support. Furthermore, seventeen athletes (11 Boys, 6 Girls, M(age)= 11.65) participated in semi-structured interviews using the Coaching Behaviour Assessment Scale (CBAS). Results showed that there was no significant difference between genders on preferences, and no relationship between preferences and age. There was a significant difference between sport type where individual sport had a significantly higher preference for Democratic Behaviour than team sport athletes (t (114) = 2.72, p < .01). Themes from interviews were categorized and suggest numerous behaviours regarding responses to performance, mistakes, misbehaviour, social support, and coaching gender that coaches can additionally implement in their practices; while findings from data add new content to pre-existing literature.