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Title: Interpersonal communication within the coach-athlete relationship in table tennis dyads
Author: Bolland, Benjamin James
ISNI:       0000 0004 6351 2636
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2015
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The purpose of this thesis was to explore and further understand the role and significance of interpersonal communication within the context of the coach-athlete relationship. Chapters 1 and 2 review the existing literature pertaining to these two interpersonal concepts and introduce the central frameworks, namely, Fuoss and Troppmann's (1981) model of the communication process, and Jowett and colleagues' (2007) 3 + 1Cs conceptualisation of the coach-athlete relationship, which are operationalised in the three studies presented. Grounded in self-determination theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 2000) and guided by Jowett and Poczwardowski's (2007) integrated research model, the first study looked to empirically test the associations between interpersonal communication competence, the quality of the coach-athlete relationship, need satisfaction, and motivation. The actor-partner interdependence model (APIM; Kenny, Kashy, & Cook, 2006) was employed to examine 102 coach-athlete dyads' perceptions of the aforementioned variables. Structural equation model analyses revealed (a) actor effects for coaches and athletes' interpersonal communication competence on their own perceptions of relationship quality, perceptions of relationship quality on their own need satisfaction, and perceptions of need satisfaction on their own motivation, and (b) partner effects for coaches' communication competence on athletes' perceptions of relationship quality, coaches relationship quality on athletes' need satisfaction, and athletes need satisfaction on coaches' motivation. The effects observed, whilst supporting the central tenets of SDT, also reflected the interdependence structures in the coach-athlete relationship, more specifically, they indicated that both the coach and the athlete were dependent on one another for generating positive and adaptive outcomes. The results highlighted the importance of coaches and athletes communicating competently and developing relationships characterised by a mutuality of dependence and high levels of closeness, commitment, and complementarity in satisfying the basic psychological needs and fostering self-determined motivation towards their activity. Importantly, the findings lent empirical support to the notion that relationship partners who possess high levels of interpersonal communication competence (i.e., interpersonal communication skills facilitating effective interpersonal communication) were more likely to experience higher relationship quality (as defined by the 3 Cs) which in turn led to positive adaptive outcomes (need satisfaction and self-determined motivation) for both relationship partners. Study 2 looked to further investigate the nature of the relationship between interpersonal communication and the quality of the coach-athlete relationship. More specifically, it sought to understand how relationship partners conveyed and experienced relationship closeness, commitment, and complementarity, and thus make informed judgements as to the quality of their coach-athlete relationship. Content analysis of the interview transcripts from the 10 independent coach-athlete dyads revealed that coaches and athletes conveyed relationship closeness, commitment, and complementarity through verbal and nonverbal communicative channels. More specifically, utilising an adapted version of Ickes's (2001) unstructured dyadic interaction paradigm, the study found that during their training ground interactions, coaches and athletes' communicative acts often enclosed underlining relational intentions, but dyad members' ability to accurately infer their partners' communicative (relational) intentions (empathic accuracy) was limited, despite dyad members often assuming their intentions had been appropriately interpreted (assumed similarity). Examining the decoding component of interpersonal communication and determining effectiveness in terms of the degree to which partners were able to accurately interpret and internalise their partners' communicative intentions, the findings from Study 2 raised the question, what factors were limiting this process? Study 3 attempted to address this question. Twenty four coaches and athletes from 12 independent coach-athlete dyads were interviewed to elucidate factors they perceived inhibited the effectiveness of interpersonal communication with their partner. Inductive content analysis yielded four higher order themes: Environmental barriers (e.g., noise and accessibility), psychosocial barriers (e.g., power issues and relationship closeness), process barriers (e.g., sending and receiving), and personal barriers (e.g., age, knowledge level, attitude). From a theoretical perspective, the inductive findings generated provided empirical support for Fuoss and Troppmann's (1981) two-way model of communication and its utility as a framework for understanding the effectiveness of interpersonal communication within the context of the coach-athlete relationship. From a practical perspective, whilst it is acknowledged that eliminating these barriers does not necessarily change communication between partners, it does afford guidance on better communication practices. Thus, the findings could help inform intervention programmes, designed to improve coach-athlete communications, which as studies 1 and 2 demonstrate, would likely benefit the quality of the coach-athlete relationship. Collectively, the results of all the studies, their limitations, implications for theory, research, and practice, and future directions are discussed in Chapter 6.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available