Examining athletic coaches’ interaction behaviors in conversations about well-being: results of a feasibility trial

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Ashely M. Frazier (Creator)
Institution
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Advisor
Celia R. Hooper

Abstract: Communication is a critical skill for all people. Communication is a foundational skill of the work of athletic coaching, and the coach-athlete relationship requires some coach communication that is not limited strictly to conversations about sport performance. It is unclear whether skills developed to communicate effectively in the sport performance context carry over to other contexts. Athletic coaches need to be able to support the overall well-being of athletes by identifying potential problems and connecting athletes to help. To do this, a critical need is to communicate effectively about well-being issues. A paucity of literature exists about the baseline communication performance of coaches in conversations about well-being, about how coaches view their role and efficacy in such conversations, and about what specific tools and methods might be used to study this. There were two overarching purposes for this study. The first was to explore the feasibility of research into the baseline communication performance of coaches in conversations about well-being, how coaches view their role and efficacy in such conversations, and what specific tools and methods might be used to study these issues. The second purpose was to gather preliminary data to plan and legitimize such research. In order to investigate the feasibility and obtain preliminary data to address these issues, a group of athletic coaches were asked to participate in three simulated case conversations about well-being and to complete an online survey. This group was compared to a group of health coaches who performed the same tasks. Conversational data was coded using an adaptation of the Roter Interaction Analysis System (RIAS). A mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods were used to analyze the resulting data, as well as respond to “can it work?” questions about the tools, methods, and theoretical frameworks used. Key results include evidence for the need for institutional support to support athletic coach participation in communication training, support for adapted motivational interviewing as a useful framework for viewing communication behaviors in conversations about well-being, and the utility of RIAS as a method for quickly coding data from live or audio recordings of conversations. Preliminary data revealed that athletic coaches are more directive, ask fewer questions, and elicit less information from athletes. Health coaches elicited more utterances expressing concern and more information from conversational partners. Implications for future research and practice include evidence supporting the utility of these tools and methods, key constructs to target in potential development of coach-specific training, as well as building institutional support for the need for communication skills training to increase outcomes related to conversations about well-being between athletic coaches and student-athletes.

Additional Information

Publication
Dissertation
Language: English
Date: 2017
Keywords
Athletic coach, Communication, Motivational interviewing, RIAS, Student-athlete, Well-being
Subjects
Coach-athlete relationships
College sports $x Coaching
College athletes
Communication in sports
Interpersonal communication
Motivational interviewing

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