An exploration of the intersection of dimensions of the coach-athlete relationship and interactions with high performance and athlete well-being
[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] While normative success may be the most tangible measure of athletes' sport experience and coaches' success rates, it is imperative that the interpersonal dynamic not be forgotten (Jowett, 2005; Jowett & Poczwardowski, 2007). This interpersonal dynamic is grounded in a coach's coaching style, either controlling or autonomy-supportive. The communication that a coach uses is indicative of this style and significantly influences athlete well-being, motivation, behavior, and performance (Ryan & Deci, 2002). In all, data in this study was collected from twelve participants, nine collegiate gymnasts and three coaches, through both interviews and practice observations. Findings indicate a reciprocal interaction between coach-athlete communication and the development of the coach-athlete relationship. Athletes preferred a feedback style hereby termed activeconstructive instruction (ACI). Through the encouragement of athlete input, ACI presents coaches with a method of authentically providing athletes with autonomy as well as increasing their feelings of competence in their ability to accurately evaluate and correct their own performances. The utilization of the components of ACI also led athletes to garner a greater sense of care and respect from their coaches, thereby strengthening the coach-athlete relationship. As the relationship developed, the athletes felt their coaches were more adept at providing them with individualized feedback and meeting their own specific needs within the sport environment. Furthermore, the development of a strong coach-athlete relationship led the athletes to perceive greater sport enjoyment, motivation, and, ultimately, performance. These findings speak to the importance of both coach-athlete communication and the coach-athlete relationship in the pursuit of high performance and the maintenance of athlete well-being.
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