Authoritative Coach: Building Youth Through Sport


  • Christian S. Brinton Brigham Young University
  • Brian J. Hill
  • Peter J. Ward



Authoritative coaching, authoritarian coaching, permissive coaching, autonomy, competence, relatedness, youth sports, coaching


Tens of millions of youth coached by millions of coaches participate in competitive sports annually in the United States on a weekly or even daily basis.Coaches, athletes, parents, league administrators, and recreation professionals engaged in recruiting and training coaches have the need to better understand the impact these coaches and their coaching styles have on the youth athletes with whom they associate.The purpose of this study was to determine the existence and extent of the relationship between coaching styles and adolescent athletes’ psychological needs in terms of Self Determination Theory (SDT).Specifically, this study adapted Baumrind’s parenting styles of authoritative, authoritarian, and permissiveness to coaching styles and examined the relationship between each coaching style and the tenets of SDT, namely autonomy, competence, and relatedness.The sample consisted of 194 students from a university in the Western United States who had participated in either club or high school level sports for at least one year during high school.Results from block entry method linear multi-regression analysis suggested that coaching styles were related to athletes’ levels of perceived autonomy, and competence.Results revealed that an authoritative coaching style was a significant predictor of athlete autonomy and competence while an authoritarian coaching style was a significant negative predictor of athlete autonomy levels.Results from this study hold practical implications for coaches, athletes, parents, league administrators and recreation professionals.Coaches have new principles on which they can base their coaching styles. Results provide criteria for parents and adolescents to use while selecting coaches.League administrators and recreation professionals received information for coach selection and training criteria and coaching evaluation development.Overall, this study adds to the youth sport literature by not only showing that coaches impact adolescent athletes’ basic needs, but provides a practical style or mindset rather than a list of behaviors for coaches to implement, coach selection criteria for parents and athletes, and guidelines for league administrators and recreation professionals to use in selecting, training, and evaluating coaches.Subscribe to JPRA





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