The Sport Journal: An Exploration of Female Athletes’ Experiences and Perceptions of Male and Female Coaches: Ten Years Later
The Sport Journal is a peer-reviewed journal of sports, published by the United States Sports Academy
Published May 2019, the article: “An Exploration of Female Athletes’ Experiences and Perceptions of Male and Female Coaches: Ten Years Later” written by Melissa Rima, Rory Weishaar, Brian McGladrey, Erica Pratt explains the findings of a ten year study into the differences female athletes perceive male and female coaches.
Athletes’ experiences and perceptions of their coaches will be different based on differing lifestyles, personalities, and characters (16), and gender may be a mediating factor for the building of effective relationships between athletes and their coaches (11,12). The purpose of this study was to explore six female athletes’ experiences and perceptions of both male and female head coaches, and to compare results to those reported by Frey, Czech, Kent, and Johnson (4), who investigated the same issue 10 years prior. In this study, four prevalent themes emerged from semi-structured interviews with participants: (1) structure and communication; (2) personal relationships; (3) positivity and aggressiveness; and (4) coach preference. Although the results specific to coach gender preference were split (three participants stated they preferred a male coach, and three stated they preferred a female coach), other differences emerged with regard to different coach qualities. Results are discussed from the perspective of the participants, and compared to the 2006 study.
The purpose of this study was to explore a group of six female athletes’ experiences and perceptions of female and male coaches by replicating the same study conducted in 2006. The findings demonstrated an equal split for coach gender preference, compared to the original study, in which nine of the twelve female athletes preferred male coaches. Similar themes emerged, including discussion of the athletes’ coaching preference, a coach’s passivity or aggressiveness, the personal relationships that were developed with coaches, and the structure each coach brought to their team. Participants in the 2006 study discussed the way their coaches disciplined them, while the 2016 participants were more concerned with the way their coaches addressed them and communicated with them both at and away from the athletic venue. A longitudinal study, or a study that includes a greater number of participants, might more thoroughly examine the influences that male and female coaches have on their athletes.
It is important for male and female coaches to understand female athletes’ perceptions about gender-specific coaches and coaching methods. This understanding may lead to variations in coaching communications with female athletes, as well as a development of the personal—yet still professional—type of relationship female athletes want with their male and female coaches; all of which should contribute to improved coach-athlete relationships, and athlete performance.