Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.557778
Title: An investigation into the emotional responses of child athletes to their coach's behaviour from a child maltreatment perspective
Author: Gervis, Misia
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2012
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Abstract:
Millions of children participate in sport and through their participation come into contact with coaches who are there to guide and support them. However, it has been observed that not all children’s relationships with their coaches have been positive ones, and concerns have been raised about the nature of the child-athlete relationship within the sports context. This research sought to use theory from child maltreatment research and apply it within a sports context to investigate perceived child athlete experiences. The research used both qualitative and quantitative methodologies to investigate retrospectively athletes’ perceptions of, and emotional responses to their coach’s behaviour. The initial study used qualitative method to establish if key theoretical frameworks from outside sport had a resonance and relevance within a sports context. Twelve elite athletes, all of whom had been identified as ‘elite’ when children reported that they had experienced negative coaching behaviour on a frequent basis they also reported negative emotional responses to this behaviour, and emotional problems as a consequence of how they were coached when they were children. Study Two (n=229), focused on broadening the research to access a larger population of athletes in order to examine their perceptions and experiences of being coached. In order to achieve this aim a new questionnaire, the Sport Emotional Response Questionnaire (SER-Q), was developed. The SER-Q was grounded in the real-life experiences of those athletes in Study One, and as such represented their expert opinions of their coaches’ behaviour. Through factor analysis, a 22-item questionnaire was established which measured frequency of negative (i.e. emotionally abusive) coach behaviour, athletes’ emotional response and perceived effect on performance. Results from this study showed that frequency of negative coach behaviour and emotional response were significantly and negatively correlated such that, as the frequency increased so did the negative emotional response. Study Three (n=314), was a confirmatory study, and found similar results to Study Two. Study Four (n=543), sought to investigate, through the SER-Q, specific questions in relation to: competitive level, athlete gender, and type of sport (either team or individual) and gender of the coach. Results revealed that there were no significant differences between athlete gender, type of sport and coach gender. However, significant results were found in relation to competitive level. Elite athletes (international-level and national-level) reported experiencing significantly more frequent negative coach behaviour: they also reported a greater negative emotional response to it than any of the non-elite (recreational-level, club-level and regional-level) groups. Finally, Study Five examined the perceived performance effect, and found a significant negative relationship with frequency, such that has the frequency increased so did the perceived negative performance effect; and a significant positive relationship with emotional response. Further results from this Study Five also found that there were only significant differences in relation to competitive level. Again elite athletes reported significantly greater detriments to their perceived performance resulting from their coach’s behaviour than did non-elite athletes. A consistent finding across all the studies was that when athletes reported ‘never’ having experienced emotionally abusive behaviour from their coach, they always reported ‘no emotional response’, and no effect on their performance. Therefore, the SER-Q was able to discriminate between these two populations of athletes. Overall, the findings from these studies have contributed to the development of a theoretical model that describes the process of emotional abuse from a child athlete perspective. Secondly, the findings reveal that elite athletes report different experiences of being coached when children than non-elite athletes. Furthermore, these studies found that theories anchored in family settings can be used to explore issues within a sports setting, and thus the child maltreatment perspective has relevance in developing sports specific theory in relation to the coach-child athlete relationship. A consistent finding across all the studies was that when athletes reported ‘never’ having experienced emotionally abusive behaviour from their coach, they always reported ‘no emotional response’, and no effect on their performance. Therefore, the SER-Q was able to discriminate between these two populations of athletes. Overall, the findings from these studies have contributed to the development of a theoretical model that describes the process of emotional abuse from a child athlete perspective. Secondly, the findings reveal that elite athletes report different experiences of being coached when children than non-elite athletes. Furthermore, these studies found that theories anchored in family settings can be used to explore issues within a sports setting, and thus the child maltreatment perspective has relevance in developing sports specific theory in relation to the coach-child athlete relationship.
Supervisor: Radford, P. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.557778  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sport ; Emotional abuse ; Elite athletes ; Athlete welfare ; Child protection
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