Drawing from Bronfenbrenner’s (1995) bioecological model of human development, youth experiences in sport are influenced by proximal social agents (e.g., parents, athletes, coaches) as well as broader contextual factors (e.g., administrators, league policies, societal values). Coaches spend significant time with athletes, serving as important sources of feedback and evaluation. The quality of coach-athlete relationships may depend on how well coaches are trained in children’s physical and psychosocial development. Indeed many coaches feel ill-prepared to handle the developmental, psychological, and interpersonal aspects of youth sport and formal coaching education programs do not sufficiently meet coaches’ needs (Erikson et al., 2008; Wiersma & Sherman, 2005). As such, coaches who do not receive proper training are less prepared to help youth reap developmental benefits of sport participation. It is thus essential to structure coaching education opportunities that meet coaches’ needs and maximize benefits for youth. Previous studies have primarily relied on coaches’ perspectives to structure coaching education. However, parents and administrators also play direct (e.g., parent-athlete relationships) and indirect (e.g., coach-parent or parent-administrator interactions) roles in children’s sport experiences. To effectively design coaching education, it is therefore necessary to consider all levels of contextual influence that might explain how coaches are trained and in turn interact with athletes. The purpose of this study was to gather multiple perspectives (coaches, parents, administrators) of the perceived needs and value of coaching education programs in a youth sport community. Survey results reveal how these perspectives converge and diverge on the content and worth of coaching education and provide practical information about how to tailor coaching education to a community’s needs. Findings are couched in Bronfenbrenner’s framework and discussed in terms of how young athletes’ experiences in sport are shaped by proximal and distal social contextual factors.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/laura_jonespetranek/13/