Year of Publication


Date of Thesis


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Exercise and Sport Sciences


Leadership is a widely researched topic within the business, industrial, and academic communities. In fact, leadership is one of the most extensively studied topics in organizational and industrial psychology (Chelladurai, 1984). However, there have been limited studies assessing sport leadership. Much of the existing research on leadership in sport has examined how different coaching styles affect athletes (Chelladurai & Saleh, 1980). Specifically there is a dearth of research investigating the behaviors among NCAA sport captains. The purpose of this study was to provide a qualitative assessment of NCAA captains' behaviors. This study assessed the behaviors of leaders participating in individual sports (i.e., track and field, wrestling, and swimming) and team sports. Specifically, this study was designed to explore how and why NCAA sport captains exhibit their respective leader behaviors. Participants included six (N=6) male NCAA team captains from Division I and III sport programs. Three (n=3) individual sport captains and three (n=3) team sport captains were interviewed. Each athlete was interviewed individually during the Fall 2008 semester. An in-depth, semi-structured interview was used for data collection. The captains' descriptions of their experiences and behaviors were analyzed according to adapted methods outlined by Shelley (1998). The results indicate that NCAA sport captains develop relationships with teammates, develop relationships with coaches, have numerous responsibilities, provide leadership, keep their team focused, and remember to have fun. Results add to the existing literature on sport leadership and should benefit athletes, coaches, and sport psychology consultants by providing a greater understanding of leadership across NCAA sport populations.



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