Macdonald S & Allen J (2017) Examining the canoe slalom talent development coaching climate created by coaches and experienced by athletes (Presentation) ICCE Global Coach Conference, Liverpool, England, 31.07.2017-02.08.2017. https://www.icce.ws/events.html
Many factors need to come together to facilitate athletes’ successful transition to elite performance (Côté, et al, 2009). The coach has a central influence on this process and on the athletes’ sporting environment (e.g., Henriksen, et al, 2011; Pensgaard & Roberts, 2002). Some researchers (e.g., Allen & Hodge, 2006; Keegan, et al, 2010; Duda 2013) have argued to bring together multiple theories to better understand the coaching climate. However, to date little is known about the multi-dimensional nature of the coaching climate in talent development environments. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the talent development coaching climate in Canoe Slalom in the UK. Specifically, through a mixed methods approach we examined the coach-created climate and the coaching practices and philosophies that facilitated the climate.
Participants: Six (five male, one female) full-time Canoe Slalom talent development coaches. All were considered successful due to their ability to coach athletes to achieve race results, ranking positions, and move into Great Britain programmes (next stage in the talent development pathway). Twenty-four athletes (13 male, 11 female) also participated in the study (M age=16.2 years).
Data collection and analysis: A mixed methods approach was employed: 1) Coaches and athletes completed the Differentiated Transformational Leadership Inventory (Callow et al, 2009); 2) Interviews with coaches and open-ended survey questions for the athletes; 3) Coaching episode observation analysed using a bespoke template and the Multidimensional Motivational Climate Observation System (Smith et al, 2015). A summary of the coaching climate, practices, and philosophy was developed for each coach based on the perspectives of the athletes, coach, and observer which were compared and contrasted.
Results and Discussion
All the coaches created a ‘productive’ talent development coaching climate, used transformational leadership behaviours, and their philosophy of coaching, in particular their views on athletes’ learning, influenced their coaching practice. Comparisons of the coaching climates revealed two forms based on the combination of the coaches’ ‘place’ on a behaviourist to humanistic continuum and structure to agency continuum (Nelson & Colquhoun, 2013). The findings and the research on leadership, motivational climate, and talent development are used to discuss the implications for talent development coaching climates.