Conference Papers

The Impact of the Caring Sports Coach to Affect Young People’s Behaviour: A Study in a Disadvantaged Community

The duties of the sports coach have been traditionally modelled by sequential, rationalistically driven paradigms. Time-honoured practice has been steeped in regulatory controls that discipline participants, culminating in rigid approaches to teaching (Lyle, 2002; 2007). However, recent literature has reconceptualised the role of the sports coach as complex, contextual focusing on more holistic socio-pedagogical endeavours (Jones, 2007; Cassidy et al., 2009; Denison and Avner, 2011). A second key challenge facing the modern-day sports coach, is the revered ability to engage and motivate young people to the intrinsic values of sport (Holt, 2009; Holt and Talbot, 2013), thus reducing antisocial, and indeed sedentary behaviour, within young people (Johnson, 2013). Could caring instructors change behaviour through generating self-determination in order to motivate young people and stimulate self-actualising tendencies?

In this presentation I will disseminate the findings from my study which aimed to evaluate the ability of modern-day sports coaches to instil positive behaviour patterns in order to combat antisocial behaviour in young people. My sample consisted of two coaches and female rugby teams based in a community considered disadvantaged in South Wales. The data I will present was collected through extensive observations, interviews with the coaches and a semi-structured focus group with members of the rugby team. I will explore the challenges facing coaches to engage young people in sport, and the role of adaptive approaches, caring and constructive environments in promoting motivation and actualising tendencies.

Ultimately, I hope to demonstrate how person-centred approaches within practice formulate strong coach-athlete relationships, and that autonomy-supportive practice, targeted toward mastery achievement goals, engender positive outcomes in engagement and behaviour within young people.

Symes, J. (2018) 'The Impact of the Caring Sports Coach to Affect Young People’s Behaviour: A Study in a Disadvantaged Community', paper presented to The 14th Annual Conference of the British Education Studies Association (BESA), 27–29 June, viewed 13 August 2020, <>