The female coach as a role model for personal growth and development to the female adolescent athlete
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Research interest on the topic of female coaches as role models has recently emerged in the coaching literature. Social learning theory (Bandura, 1963; 1977; 1986) has also emerged as an essential framework in explaining learning through modeling. Previous research has examined the coach as a role model, as well as gender differences between coaches. Several authors, with several different conclusions, have studied the significance of gender as an influencer in role modeling. Whitaker and Molstad in 1988 conducted a study focusing on the coach as a role model. What they found was when they combined the results of high school and college aged athletes; the female coach was considered to be a superior role model. The current research used a social learning theory framework to examine the benefits and intricacies of the modeling relationship between female adolescent athletes and influential female coaches. To accomplish this task, the formative experiences of thirteen adolescent female athletes were examined. Each athlete was interviewed, with each semi-structured interview focusing on extracting the salient features of a coach that the athlete identified as being the most influential in her personal development. The data from these interviews were quaHtatively analyzed using case studies. From case studies, a template emerges in which the coach/athlete relationship can be seen as an essential construct in which caring and strong role models can have lasting effects on the lives, values, and successes of adolescent female athletes.