Athletes’ Experiences of the Psychological Effects of Poor Coaching
The purpose of this study was to describe the psychological effects of poor coaching reported by collegiate, professional and semi-professional athletes.
The present study employs a qualitative research design. Existential phenomenology is a contemporary qualitative research method that seeks to describe lived experience. This research design provided the framework for understanding athletes’ effects of poor coaching.
Participants (N=16) were asked to describe their experiences of poor coaching. All responses were recorded, transcribed, and the data were analyzed through a series of iterations, which led to the identification of five themes that constitute the essence of athletes’ experiences with poor coaching.
The five themes derived from athletes’ reports were: poor teaching by the coach, uncaring, unfair, inhibiting athlete’s mental skills, and athlete coping. Two of these themes, inhibiting athlete’s mental skills and coping, are closely connected to psychological constructs, and are presented in this paper. The theme of inhibiting athlete’s mental skills was made up of athletes’ descriptions of poor coaches as being distracting, engendering self-doubt, demotivating, and dividing the team. The theme of athlete coping describes how athletes responded to being poorly coached.
Researchers conclude that the two themes, inhibiting athlete’s mental skills and athlete coping, are related to several constructs in sport psychology literature such as motivation, self-efficacy, focus and concentration, team cohesion, and stress and coping. Instruction on coping skills is warranted for athletes dealing with poor coaching. Future research should also examine the relationship between coping skills and drop-out in youth sport.