Year of Publication


Date of Thesis


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Exercise and Sport Sciences


Coaches hold an influential position in the lives of their athletes, both in and out of sport (Mastroleo et al., 2012). Although coaches hold this position regardless of their coaching styles or behaviors, it is difficult to define an “influential coach”, as the definition varies significantly across various populations. While several authors have examined positive and negative coaching behaviors, influential coaching also varies across demographics (Crust & Azadi, 2009; Fasting & Pfister, 2000; Hoffman, 2008; Jowett & Cockerill, 2003). This suggests that “influential coaching” may be situational and subjective, and therefore benefit from qualitative research designed to establish a clearer and more holistic depiction of this coaching characteristic. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore what coaching behaviors student-athletes perceive as most influential. The author recruited seven student-athletes from the Division I and Division III levels. Data was collected using a semi-structured interview format. Following all data collection, the interviews were transcribed and analyzed using Qualitative Data Analyses (QDA). From these interviews, five common themes emerged. These themes were as follows: 1) An influential coach is socially competent, 2) An influential coach is a caring role model who creates a positive environment, 3) An influential coach is committed, 4) An influential coach is flexible, adaptive, and holistic, and 5) An influential coach is knowledgeable. These findings should benefit coaches in their continual development as influential leaders. Potential limitations of this study include, but are not limited to, a limited sample size, data being subjective and therefore lacking generalizability, and the possible influence of outside circumstances impacting athlete perceptions at the time of the scheduled interviews.



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