A logistic regression model of the decision of volunteers to enter a sports coach education programme
200,000 voluntary coaches ensure that the large investments in sports facilities in the
UK are effectively used and that the athletes experience a healthy life. In a socioeconomic period in which volunteering may be diminishing, more coaches to
successfully implement the national strategy for sport. Yet very little is known about
how individuals, in particular parents, decide to become voluntary coaches. The
research set out to test if a quantitative model could represent such a decision
process. It formulates a model of the process and tests the model against field data.
From Social Exchange Theory, a conceptual model was developed of the decision
process to enter a coach education programme. It was clear that the process was
multi-dimensional. The research then showed how this multi-dimensional conceptual
model could be mathematically represented by a logistic regression model. Published
work on volunteering, sport and coaching was reviewed. From this literature review,
a set of potential explanatory variables was obtained which previous researchers had
suggested to be involved in decision processes involving volunteering and coaching.
Hypotheses were made for these potential explanatory variables.
Data was collected by personal interview of a sample of 112 individuals associated
with athletics in the UK. The sample was taken from qualified, voluntary athletic
coaches, from adult members of two amateur athletic clubs, and from parents of
children in these clubs. The building of the logistic regression model showed the
relative importance of each of the explanatory variables to the decision process. It
also showed whether or not variables were independent or associated with another
variable. Tests were conducted to indicate how well the mathematical model fitted the
data and, hence, how well the conceptual model represented the sample. The use of
logistic regression allowed the potential explanatory variables to be ranked in order of
influence on the decision to become a coach. It also allowed the hypotheses to be
Qualitative information was also obtained from the interviews. These allowed the
logistic regression model to be triangulated. The qualitative data gave further insights
into the perceptions of adults, especially parents, and of coaches. It also indicated the
key events which triggered a decision to coach.
The logistic regression model provided a satisfactory fit to the data indicating the
adequacy of the conceptual model. It indicates that the two genders have differing
sets of significant explanatory variables. Some variables were found to be more
complex than suggested by the published literature, others to be non linear and some
not significant. The degree of fit suggested that one or more unknown, but significant,
variables still need to be identified.
The research suggests how the models could be improved and developed. There are
implications for the future recruitment, training and retention of voluntary athletic
coaches. By extension, the conceptual and mathematical models can be adapted for
other adult education decision processes where the choice of course is voluntary.