Two Sides of the Coin: Volunteer Coaches and Sport Clubs’ Ideological Psychological Contract


  • Alana Harman Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Patti Millar Windsor University
  • Shannon Kerwin Brock University



volunteer coaches, community sport, psychological contract, ideological psychological contract


Community sport and recreation organizations (CSROs) are woven into the fabric of many local communities. CSROs play an integral role in not only providing recreational and competitive sport, but also act as conduits that may contribute to positive outcomes such as mental health benefits and economic and social capital. Though the importance of CSROs is often recognized, their ability to recruit and retain volunteer coaches, who are integral to their mission, continues to be troublesome. The retention of volunteer coaches may leave CSROs programs imperiled. Psychological contracts are shown to impact volunteers’ attitudes and behaviours, and as such may be a critical piece to the volunteer coach retention puzzle. As such, the purpose of this study was to use an ideological psychological contract (iPC) framework to explore the value-based expectations of volunteer coaches and the administrators who represent their club. The values-based expectations of volunteer coaches, and their respective clubs was uncovered through a multiple case study of two soccer clubs. Findings revealed that both coaches and clubs possess values-based expectations of themselves and the other party. While coaches and clubs did express some shared values, each also identified unique values. The findings of this study suggest several implications for managers. Managers of CSROs may wish to develop a clear set of values for their organization, and explicitly identify how those values are to be embodied by coaches. The latter point may reduce misunderstandings, and therefore incongruence of expectations between volunteer coaches and CSROs. Underpinning organizational actions and communications in value-based expectations further exemplifies how expectations are to be brought to life, for example, ensuring that decision making reflects the CSROs values, and when members of the CSRO deviate from identified values, corrective measures are taken. Value statements can also be incorporated into written documents, reflected in the policies and procedures of the organization, and are further reinforced in the variety of communications between CSRO and volunteer coach. Value congruence is recognized in the iPC framework as integral to creating a positive work environment; our multiple case study revealed incongruencies, as such CSRO managers are encouraged to reflect on their own values, how they are communicated, and how they are lived by themselves and other club representatives. Subscribe to JPRA

Author Biography

Alana Harman, Wilfrid Laurier University

Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education





Regular Papers