A Systematic Observation of Coach Leadership Behaviours in Youth Sport
There is growing recognition for the Transformational Leadership (TFL) framework in youth sport. Indeed, theoretical and empirical evidence suggests that coach TFL plays a salient role in promoting developmental outcomes in youth athletes. Nevertheless, research examining the influence of coach leadership behaviours typically relies on self-report measures and inductive analytical techniques, thus providing a limited picture of TFL. It is therefore important to generate baseline descriptive data, revealing the extent to which leadership behaviours are currently being employed by youth sport coaches. Accordingly, the overarching purpose of this study was to provide quantitative descriptions relating to the nature and extent to which youth sport coaches display leadership behaviours across playing contexts (i.e., training and competition). Participants were seven head coaches of youth soccer teams and 73 athletes (Mage = 14.26, SD = 1.27, 40 female). Systematic observation was employed to examine the frequency of coach leadership behaviours. Descriptive data regarding the coaches’ use of leadership revealed that coaches spend more time exhibiting neutral behaviours compared to active leadership (e.g., TFL). This was consistent across training (75.2% neutral) and competition (77.5% neutral). When coaches actively displayed leadership, they frequently displayed TFL behaviours, including individualized consideration (M = 9.29%), inspirational motivation (M = 6.68%), and less frequently, intellectual stimulation (M = 2.95%), and idealized influence (M = 1.5%). Additionally, coaches rarely displayed passive and ineffective leadership. Finally, the results indicate that coaches display similar levels of leadership in both training and completion. These findings provide insight into the leadership behaviours employed by coaches across playing contexts, which can inform future leadership workshops focused on promoting athlete development. These findings hold practical implications, and lend insight into the youth sport coaching and TFL literature.