Science discussion(no plagiarism, a++ work, quality, on time)

Swamped with your writing assignments? We'll take the academic weight off your shoulders. We complete all our papers from scratch. You can get a plagiarism report upon request just to confirm.


Order a Similar Paper Order a Different Paper

Science Discussion

Communicating With Your Athletes

Coaching is all about communication. Three important dimensions of communication are: sending and receiving messages, verbal and nonverbal messages, and content and emotion. Six steps in communicating messages are presented with examples of reasons why efforts to communicate with athletes are sometimes ineffective. Eight important communication skills are explained using examples of coaches with communication problems. Typical communication characteristics for command, submissive, and cooperative coaching styles are discussed.

Advice for developing communication skills in coaching is offered with recommendations for improving each skill. Developing credibility is probably the most important element of communication and is reflected in the degree to which athletes trust what you say. Communicating with a positive approach is presented as an essential skill. Ideas are suggested for practicing the positive approach and for being realistic about expectations of athletes. Providing athletes with feedback that is high in information is an important skill. Coaches are urged to praise good behavior and tell athletes what is good about it, and to give specific instructions for improvement.

Communicating with consistency, learning how to listen, and improving nonverbal communication are proposed as essential communication skills. Consistently communicated messages build credibility and trust. Coaches should learn good listening skills by concentrating on listening, not interrupting athletes, and respecting their right to express views. Coaches also need to pay attention to how their nonverbal messages are interpreted and are reminded that they are role models for communicating respect for other people and for the sport they coach.

DISCUSSION –


W3: Coaching Discipline



(No more than 300 words)

One of the toughest aspects of coaching is dealing with discipline issues. It occurs at all levels (recreation, middle school, high school, college, and professional). Disciplining players is a fine line, to say the least. How a coach disciplines their team can determine the character of the team and possibly success or failure.

Describe your philosophy on discipline in relation to coaching athletics. How does discipline play a role in coaching? Do you have a high number of specific rules or a low number general rules that cover a variety of areas? Do you prefer to punish the entire team for one player’s mistake or do you prefer to discipline the individual player? What areas of behavior, both on and off the field, should be included in team rules? How should a coach handle athletes who break team rules? What should the consequences be for rule violations? Describe both positive and negative approaches to disciplining players and the implications of both. Explain your answers clearly and provide examples where appropriate.

Remember, Initial Discussion – crafted into (a minimum of) 3 solid paragraphs.  The Initial Discussion should be strictly NARRATIVE.  This means no bullet-points, numbered/lettered lists, or question/answer (no need to rewrite the questions).  Don’t forget to include at least two (2) references with your Initial Discussion.

Choi, H., Park, J., & Kim, Y. (2019). Decreasing aggression through team communication in collegiate athletes. Sustainability, 11(20), 5650. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy1.apus.edu/10.3390/su11205650

Coppola, A., Ward, R., & Freysinger, V. (2014). Coaches’ Communication of Sport Body Image: Experiences of Female Athletes. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology26(1), 1–16.

1. ****Respond to Discussion Butler (No more than 150 words)****

One of the things that most players are taught to do when entering a sporting competition is to respect the game. Within this relies a very important aspect that is helps athletes respect the game is sportsmanship. Sportsmanship mainly refers to virtues such as fairness, self-control, courage, and persistence, and has been associated with interpersonal concepts of treating others and being treated fairly, maintaining self-control if dealing with others, and respect for both authority and opponents (Lewis, 2016). I believe somewhat the coach’s responsibility to teach this. Athletes are from different backgrounds and grow up in different environments. This could influence emotions due to the competitive natures that go on within the play. Coaches should use this to channel that emotion in to proper sportsmanship.

One athlete who demonstrated good sportsmanship is Michael Jordan. For years before he became successful he was being eliminated by the Detroit Pistons. Their nickname was the “Bad Boys”. They were given this due to their physical play beyond the league. No matter what they threw at Michael Jordan he kept his self-control and always shook hands in moment of defeat. The self-control was the specific character trait that he showed to demonstrate his actions. He could’ve easily lost his cool and gave up. Instead he eventually got stronger and better to go on to beat them in the next matchup two years later. The specific action that he displayed during his times adversity was treating the Pistons with respect, and giving his best effort night in and night out.

As a coach some of the traits I want my players varies. The first one is be willing to learn. This mind states starts from day one. Those people who develop the ability to continuously acquire new and better forms of knowledge that they can apply to their work and to their lives will be the movers and shakers in our society for the indefinite future (Tracy, 2020). Next is has a positive attitude. That is huge in my book. Act like you want to be here. Come in here prepared everyday with the proper attitude. Third is respect. Not only do my players need to respect the game, but they need to respect other individuals as well. Address all people in life the same way you would like to be addressed. Fourth is self-control. This one is tough because even as a coach it’s something you have to display. If my players see me losing my cool on the sidelines, they may think that it is okay to do the same. It starts at the top. Finally be supportive. All situations aren’t going to yield success. You have to support your teammates and coaches if they make a bad play or decision. Be supportive learn from those mistakes so it isn’t something that causes a trend.

2.
****Respond to Discussion DanRam (No more than 150 words)****

Sportsmanship are extreme important in sports, it teach the players as characteristics! It is part of coach’s job to teach the players about those, because without the coach’s example then the players were not able to learn to build their identity. Sportsmanships are come from how you speak, reduce ego, none racism, positive attitude, put best effort, say positive comments, accept the calls, treat other, and team as respect. 

Only one coach that I always stick in my mind forever is my coach during high school when I played football for him. His name is Eli Herring. He is well known football player that he used play for Brigham Young University in 1987,1991-1994. He is 6’8″ tall. He is all American football player in Utah. Anyway, his example taught me a lot, because while he played in college football. He never even tried out for National Football League a once. Every teams in NFL want him to play for professional football. Even the Raiders offer him to play for them with a big bonus sign up to play. His respond to them was “no thank you, I’m not playing on Sundays, I’m respecting my religion and I want keep that way to make Sunday as holy.” He teach at public high school with teacher salary in math classes. He love his job and he have seven children. He never regret his decisions. He would be a millionaire to play in professional football. But that, he still love his life with lot blessing. He love football and that where he want to coach football in high school. He been coach in football at his job for long time and he still coaching at Mountain View High School in Orem, Utah. He taught me about how to build integrity by no matter what how to face the situation daily in reality world. The word integrity is powerful lesson that I learned from him. Without him, I may not able to coach to learn the value lesson. 

With professional athlete that I can think of Steven Young. Again he used play for BYU and played in 49ers. He was legend quarterback that I can describe. He is actually still active and practice his religion in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He set up an example to his team while he played for 49ers, he taught the team how value lesson to learn as integrity person. This is the where led me also learn about integrity and how using it to coach also! 

Since I’m a coach in high school with two sports, football and lacrosse. 

My kind of sportsmanship that I know its benefit to everyone include myself:

-Integrity
-Teachable
-Set up example
-Be truly
-Positive environment
-Treat your team like your family
-Always have fun in right way!

 

JOURNAL OF APPLIED SPORT PSYCHOLOGY, 26: 1–16, 2014
Copyright C© Association for Applied Sport Psychology
ISSN: 1041-3200 print / 1533-1571 online
DOI: 10.1080/10413200.2013.766650

Coaches’ Communication of Sport Body Image:
Experiences of Female Athletes

ANGELA M. COPPOLA

University of Alberta

ROSE MARIE WARD AND VALERIA J. FREYSINGER

Miami University

The purpose of the study was to explore female athletes’ experiences of coaches’ communi-
cation of sport body image. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight National
Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I female athletes. The results revealed that
coaches encouraged nutrition and physical development during training thereby communicat-
ing a healthy, fit sport body image. The coaches communicated the sport body image through
the sport and training environment, body comparisons and criticisms, recognition of ath-
letic body change, individualized athlete-centered training, and role modeling. Individualized
athlete-centered training and goal-setting were viewed as supportive means of communicating
guidance about sport body image.

Female athletes’ body image has been described as multidimensional (e.g., Krane, Choi, Baird,
Aimar, & Kauer, 2004). Female athletes may view their bodies differently in the context of sport
than in other social situations (e.g., Greenleaf, 2002; Krane et al., 2004; Mosewich, Vangool,
Kowalski, & McHugh, 2009). Traditionally, the social feminine body ideal has emphasized
thinness (Bordo, 1993). Recently, however, acquiring and maintaining muscle tone (i.e., low
body fat and defined muscle) may be more acceptable for female athletes in both the social
and sport context (e.g., George, 2005). Female athletes may strive for muscle tone because of
its presumed link with sport performance (George, 2005; Mosewich et al., 2009). Yet muscle

Received 22 January 2012; accepted 11 January 2013.
This research was funded in part by a thesis grant awarded to Angela M. Coppola from the Graduate

School at Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056.
The current project was published within a larger Master’s thesis project at Miami University through

the OhioLINK database. In addition, portions of the study were presented at the Canadian Society
for Psychomotor Learning and Sport Psychology Conference, October 14, 2011, Winnipeg, Manitoba,
Canada.

The authors would like to acknowledge those who participated in the study and thank them for sharing
their knowledge and experiences. The authors would also like to thank the reviewers and editor for their
feedback and suggestions.

Address correspondence to Angela M. Coppola, Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation,
University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 0X7. E-mail: [email protected]

1

2 A. M. COPPOLA ET AL.

bulk (i.e., greater muscle size or mass) often continues to be avoided because this trait is not
congruent with socially acceptable feminine body ideals (George, 2005).

Female athletes’ body ideals involve a complex negotiation between concepts of muscle
size and muscle tone (e.g., George, 2005; Mosewich et al., 2009). The negotiation between
muscle tone and size may depend on the athletes’ sport or event (Mosewich et al., 2009). For
instance, short-distance (e.g., 50 m) sprinters may strive for muscle size or bulk as opposed
to long-distance runners who may strive for muscle tone. These findings indicate that female
athletes maintain multiple meanings of muscularity and that sport and social body ideals
may conflict depending on the type of muscularity strived for within the sport context. Such
intrapersonal conflict may contribute to female athletes’ unhealthy or restrictive dieting (e.g.,
Beals & Manore, 1994).

Just as athletes’ intrapersonal conflict of conforming to body ideals may contribute to
unhealthy dieting, interpersonal feedback about body image, especially from coaches, may
contribute to similar problems (Kerr, Berman, & De Souza, 2006; Muscat & Long, 2008).
Coaches’ critical comments have been associated with athletes’ social physique anxiety, dis-
ordered eating and unhealthy dieting (e.g., binge-eating and dietary restraint), and feelings
of guilt, shame, and anxiety (Biesecker & Martz, 1999; Greenleaf, 2004; Kerr et al., 2006;
Muscat & Long, 2008). Athletes may be distressed when coaches compare their bodies to
those of others because they feel pressure to conform to body ideals (Mosewich et al., 2009).
Thompson and Sherman (1999) recommended that coaches should generally avoid critical
comments and body comparisons.

Several other recommendations have been offered to prevent disordered eating and to
facilitate healthy body image in athletes (National Eating Disorders Association [NEDA],
2008; Thompson & Sherman, 1999). Coaches have been encouraged to de-emphasize weight
by avoiding weight monitoring, weight-related comments, and weight change recommenda-
tions (Thompson & Sherman, 1999). Thompson and Sherman (1999) also recommended that
coaches address weight and performance by taking into account each individual athlete’s
physical capabilities. Providing emotional support and employing the care of a physician, psy-
chologist, or nutritionist, have also been recommended (Arthur-Cameselle & Baltzell, 2012;
NEDA, 2008; Thompson & Sherman, 1999). Furthermore, athletes may prefer coaches’ sup-
port to develop physical functioning and healthfulness instead of coaches’ encouragement of
athletic body ideals (Smith & Ogle, 2006).

The aforementioned recommendations have provided guidance for coaches and researchers.
However, there may be other strategies for preventing unhealthy body image besides the
avoidance of weight change recommendations. Furthermore, coaches may not know how
to address body image with individual athletes. A description of athletes’ experiences of
coaches’ communication of body image can identify opportunities to create dialogue about
healthy body image. For instance, a description of experiences can identify opportunities to
work individually with athletes (e.g., coach-athlete meetings). The latter description may be
beneficial considering that some coaches may be hesitant to discuss body image with athletes
(Smith & Ogle, 2006).

There are currently few studies describing how coaches communicate sport body image
from the athletes’ perspectives, other than those reporting coaches’ critical comments (e.g.,
Muscat & Long, 2008). Furthermore, although there have been a number of recommenda-
tions for addressing body image concerns with athletes (e.g., Arthur-Cameselle & Baltzell,
2012; NEDA, 2008), there is little, if any, description of athletes’ experiences of coaches’
encouragement of healthy body image. In fact, Muscat and Long (2008) discussed the need
for research to help coaches “implement and monitor positive feedback” about body image
(p. 19). A description of female athletes’ experiences may identify how coaches encourage

COACHES’ COMMUNICATION OF BODY IMAGE 3

sport body image. The description may also identify strategies for communicating healthy
body image, de-emphasizing weight or body ideals, and addressing body image individually
with athletes. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore female athletes’ experiences of
coaches’ communication of sport body image (CCSBI).

METHOD

Participants

Eight female NCAA Division I college athletes (three synchronized skaters, two track
sprinters, one softball player, and two volleyball athletes) were recruited through purposive
sampling methods (see Mason, 2002). Five participants identified as Caucasian, two partici-
pants identified as Asian American, and one participant identified as African American. The
mean age of participants was 19.25 (SD = 1.16). The range of months spent on their current
team was from nine to 36 months (M = 20.63, SD = 10.45). Years of experience in their
respective sports ranged from 4.5 to 15 years (M = 9.95 years, SD = 3.28 years).

Procedure

Upon receiving institutional review board (IRB) approval, the primary author contacted the
athletic director and NCAA compliance officer at a NCAA Division I university for permission
to contact the head coaches of the female athletes at the university. The primary author sent
an e-mail to the coaches and attended team sessions to inform athletes about the study. The
study was also advertised in several undergraduate courses and through an online participant
recruitment tool.

Interview Guide

Before each interview, the female athlete was provided with the informed consent form
and a background information survey that contained descriptive questions about the athlete,
including ethnic identity, age, sport, years of experience with sport, and years with current team.
The primary author conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews following the procedures
of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA; Smith, 2004; Smith & Osborn, 2003).
The interview guide was developed based on the study’s research purpose and the previous
research on this topic (e.g., George, 2005; Greenleaf, 2002; Krane, Waldron, Stiles-Shipley,
& Michalenok, 2001). Interview questions addressed the topics of athletes’ sport body image
and sport-specific body ideals, athletes’ experiences of CCSBI (i.e., weight and size, body
shape, and muscularity), and athletes’ recommendations for CCSBI. The flow of the interview
was interactively determined. Probes or follow-up questions were used to generate rich, thick
data on the phenomena of interest (Smith & Osborn, 2003).

The primary author pilot-tested the interview guide with two female college athletes (two
dancers) as part of a qualitative research methods class. The pilot test served to identify
the appropriate content and delivery of questions before data collection in the current study.
Each interview was audio tape-recorded following the participant’s verbal consent to record
the interview. On average, the interviews were 51 min in length. Data saturation determined
sample size. Data saturation occurred when participants’ answers to the interview questions
were reproduced and little new information about CCSBI was gathered (Morse & Field, 1995;
Sandelowski, 2008).

4 A. M. COPPOLA ET AL.

Data Analysis

IPA was used to generate and analyze data. IPA is a research approach used to explore how
participants “make sense of their personal and social world” or apply meaning to particular
experiences (Smith & Osborn, 2003, p. 53). Thus, such an approach is appropriate for exploring
and describing female college athletes’ experiences of CCSBI. Data collection and analysis
took place concurrently. Strategies for establishing trustworthiness were embedded in the data
collection and analysis phase.

Groenewald (2004) described observational, theoretical, methodological, and analytical
field notes that can be produced after each interview in a phenomenological inquiry. Following
this approach, observational notes were prepared that recorded important occurrences through-
out the interviews (e.g., participants’ optimistic tones, the participants’ helpful responses, and
the participants’ excited expressions). Theoretical notes documented the researcher’s inter-
pretations and reflections on the meanings of constructs, such as sport body image as lean
or toned muscle ideals. Methodological notes served as reminder notes to the researcher for
future interviews. For instance, additional questions were noted for subsequent interviews. An-
alytical notes recorded main issues or themes from the interview, the general demeanor of the
participant, and the interviewer’s impressions about the participant or interview. For instance,
the notes indicated in one case that the “interviewee appeared to maintain a positive body
image but felt that coaches could be more sensitive about body change.” The aforementioned
field notes allowed the primary author to reflect on the participants’ responses to questions
about CCSBI in order to accurately represent participants’ views and conceptualizations of
CCSBI.

The primary author transcribed the interviews verbatim. The primary author, the third
author, and a graduate student trained in qualitative research methods read and analyzed the
transcriptions to identify meaning units and construct similar meaning units into themes.
Although embedded in the data analysis, researcher triangulation also was used to enhance
the study’s trustworthiness (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). The third author and graduate student
compared their analyses with the primary author’s analyses and field notes. Researcher trian-
gulation was a critically reflective and iterative process. When differences existed, transcripts
were read again and analyzed as a group for agreement. In addition, verbatim quotations were
provided as a means of establishing trustworthiness.

RESULTS

The purpose of this study was to explore female athletes’ experiences of CCSBI. The
analysis of the data indicated that coaches and strength and conditioning coaches emphasized
nutrition and physical development in the sport and training environment and also engaged
in supportive and unsupportive means of verbally and non-verbally communicating sport
body image. The following themes were constructed: (a) encouragement of healthy, fit sport
bodies, (b) sport and training environment, (c) body comparisons and criticisms, (d) coaches’
recognition of athletic body change, (e) individualized athlete-centered training, and (f) coach
as a role model.

Encouragement of Healthy, Fit Sport Bodies

An important element in athletes’ experiences of sport body image was the coaches’
encouragement of health and fitness. Coaches promoted healthy, fit sport bodies that were
nourished, energetic, and capable of strong athletic performance. The importance of gaining

COACHES’ COMMUNICATION OF BODY IMAGE 5

muscle—either lean muscle or muscle in bulk—was central to this advice. For example, P8
stated, “We’re taught what is ideal by what our coach says and our strength coach, saying what
they think is a good weight and how much muscle you should have and . . . what we should
strive for.” P1 also indicated that muscle gain was encouraged by coaches:

[We’re] all encouraged to umm, just get as much muscle as you can, but umm, I feel like
outside of the sport realm like when we are with our other friends or umm, like going out or
whatever, it’s umm, like it’s good to look toned but not so much muscular to the point where I
think umm, it like can put you as a manly type of thing.

The athletes discussed the emphasis that coaches and strength and conditioning coaches
placed on healthy nutrition and eating habits in order to achieve a healthy, fit, sport body
and sustain themselves during workouts and competitions. For example, P5 discussed the
experience of her coaches’ comments regarding healthy eating habits: “They always remind
us to eat because they don’t want zombies at like six o’clock in the morning.” Similarly, P2
remembered overhearing her coach’s conversation with a teammate about eating habits:

One of the coaches asked what she wanted to eat one day, what she had to eat and she said
Easy Mac and Pop-Tarts which, ya know, athletes shouldn’t be eating that but umm, she was
kinda like ya know nonchalant about it but the coaches were like you need to start being more
consistent and eating things that are good for you.

Coaches, thus, depicted muscle gain and healthy eating as being central to achieving a healthy,
fit body and encouraged a healthy, fit body through nutrition and physical development.
They frequently encouraged physical development specifically within the sport and training
environment.

Sport and Training Environment

The participants indicated that coaches communicated general body training practices
to individual athletes and the team within the sport environment. Training practices, such
as weight-lifting sheets, to monitor physical development were encouraged both within the
physical sports environment, such as weight rooms. Training practices were also communicated
virtually through team email messages. P7 discussed the strength and conditioning coaches’
communication in the weight room: “I mean they push us in the weight room to work hard
which that’s like getting strong, getting muscle.”

Sport body image was communicated through prescribed training regimens and coaches’
evaluations of athletes’ training. Coaches encouraged training regimens to enhance sport
performance. Training regimens included coaches’ encouragement of not only weight training,
but also the development of technical skills such as breathing effectively and engaging the
core. P2 perceived coaches’ encouragement of training as a means of keeping bodies strong
as opposed to conforming to body ideals:

They [coaches] try to say like ‘engage your core more’ and like ‘work on those ab muscles’ . . .
and then umm a lot of stuff with, they really have been trying to get us to increase our strength
in our arms . . . just like keeping them strong . . . nothing’s really for the way it looks like the
image but umm it’s more like practicalities.

Coaches also encouraged the athletes to monitor their physical development. Tracking
physical development led some athletes to feel confident about their performance and bodies.

6 A. M. COPPOLA ET AL.

For example, P1 said that her strength coach expected her to track her progression with
weight-lifting sheets, and P1 explained the training regimen positively:

I guess, throughout the year they give you a new weight sheet that says like what your new max
is and . . . umm . . . we test throughout the season like okay, my maximum squatting is [weight]
or whatever and then the next time we test, it should be higher and so seeing that increase, I
guess builds confidence.

Sport training included exercise, physical tests, and weigh-ins. P7 discussed participating in
weigh-ins:

Every once in a while we’re in the weight room we get on the scale and they umm take our
body weight and talk to us if we nee—if they [coaches] think we need to be doing something
else, cutting back on certain foods so we can decrease a little bit of weight or some people are
too skinny like try to eat more protein bars or special shakes and try to gain weight.

Strength and conditioning coaches (or weightlifting coaches) allowed the athletes to choose
whether physical tests, such as body fat percentage testing, were relevant to the athlete’s
physical development and should be conducted. For example, P6 preferred to test her body
fat percentage as a monitoring mechanism. She spoke positively of having the choice to do so
and of getting feedback from the strength and conditioning coach if needed:

I feel to be on my top performance I need it to be below a certain level [body fat percentage]
and our weightlifting coach, he leaves that to us, if we want to check it, we can check it, and
if—and if you ask him a question about it, if it’s good, he’ll let you know.

Additionally, coaches sent information to teams. P1 indicated, “They’ll [coaches] send
us video of . . . different athletes and stuff and . . . how their body make up affects their
[performance].” However, some team messages from coaches invoked feelings of inadequacy
or a sense that the athlete was not eating healthy or acquiring enough muscle. For example, P6
stated:

We’ll get emails and stuff saying this is what you should look like and stuff . . . we’re kind of
like okay, well, we’re trying, we’re weightlifting, we’re running continuously but . . . [coach]
still wants us to have, bigger muscles and eat right and stuff like that.

Coaches, thus, encouraged the athletes to track their physical development in the sport
and training environment. They encouraged strength training and tracking their physical de-
velopment in the weight room. Communication about training was also sent through e-mail.
Although the coaches’ communication of body image in the sport and training environment
was useful to athletes, some CCSBI was not viewed as supportive, and was sometimes seen
as a criticism.

Body Comparisons and Criticisms

Coaches’ comparisons and criticisms of athletes’ bodies were generally viewed as a negative
and unhelpful form of CCSBI. Coaches sometimes compared athletes who achieved their
specific ideal weight with those who did not. For example, P8 discussed her experience of
coaches making comments about athletes’ bodies:

COACHES’ COMMUNICATION OF BODY IMAGE 7

[Coach] even made an announcement to the team that, [coach] pointed out a few of us that . . .
that we were ‘in shape’ so that has to do with not only fitness level but also implying that [we
achieved] our ideal body weight, because then [coach] mentioned that right after, that everyone
should be striving for their ideal body weight.

Body comparison was viewed as something that was potentially upsetting for athletes. P8
continued to say that she realized,

If I was on the opposite end of [body comparison] per se, that would annoy me if [coach] was
pointing out someone else’s weight especially if I had been working hard and I felt that I was
at an ideal weight . . . that probably would have upset me.

Some of the athletes discussed critical comments coaches made to them, or that they heard
coaches make to other female athletes, about their bodies. For example, P1 remembered:

One of the girls on the team she’s, she has really really big thighs and she knows it and I feel
like she feels self-conscious about it and umm, like [coach] told her . . . ‘Oh, watch out, oh,
she’s coming through,’ things like . . . I don’t think [coach] understands . . . that that’s kind of
rude [participant laughs] or it could affect her self-esteem or something like that.

Some athletes were critiqued about their sport body image even when athletes maintained
their performance or athletic skills. For instance, P1 recalls criticisms from a coach toward a
teammate: “I’ve heard coaches tell their athletes like, umm, you need to, ‘you need to lose
weight here,’ or, ‘that’s too big,’ and umm that’s not the way that you approach . . . female
athletes.” Furthermore, P4 discussed her frustration with an experience of criticism from
coaches that she observed,

We still have those girls who are a little bit on the heavier side but are really good but they still
get criticized for being overweight . . . even though they’re great [performers] . . . which kind
of ya know . . . kind of makes me frustrated just because like, like they are such great [athletes]
and assets to our team.

Some athletes reported that in criticizing teammates because of their non-ideal bodies,
some coaches threatened non-participation. For example, P8 expressed her concerns about the
possibility of unhealthy dieting, referring to an experience where a coach threatened another
athlete’s participation:

The [coach] did basically imply to someone that, that she would not be [participating] if she
didn’t lose weight . . . I feel like sometimes those situations are what push girls into extreme
diet modes and unhealthy habits . . . . I do not respect those ways at all.

Indeed, the athletes believed that weight was an irrelevant concern if the athlete was qualified
or performed well. P4 stated:

It was rumored . . . that [coach] wouldn’t move [athlete] up because she was overweight . . .
the fact that just her weight was holding her back like is kind of hard to believe that ya know
somebody would pick umm, would put a girl who’s maybe less, less qualified to be on [the
team] just because she’s skinnier.

8 A. M. COPPOLA ET AL.

The athletes, thus, viewed the coaches’ comparisons and criticisms of athletes’ bodies as
unhelpful. The athletes viewed comparisons and criticisms as irrelevant especially if the athlete
was performing well. But whereas athletes disliked coaches’ body comparisons and criticisms,
they appreciated it when coaches recognized athletic body change and viewed it as an initial,
supportive means of communicating sport body image.

Coaches’ Recognition of Athletic Body Change

The athletes explicitly stated that discussions with athletes about body image, and more
specifically body change would be beneficial. Coaches’ discussions about the body change
expected of college athletes were viewed positively because the discussions were usually
paired with guidance or suggestions about body change. Thus, some athletes felt that coaches
recognized body change by encouraging athletes to acquire education about dieting from nu-
tritionists. When discussing the process of body change, P1 believed that coaches’ recognition
of body change was needed because “our bodies are really important to us and how we are per-
ceived by coaches and that could be a good thing or a bad thing.” P8 also noted the importance
of discussing body change:

If I was more aware of how much my body would change, I think I would have accepted it
faster, so if there was a talk that like ‘your body is going to change and we [coach staff] need
it to change to compete at a high level so we need you to embrace it’ and, and have fun with it,
make it a competition with their friends like . . . I guess if they [coach staff] can show people
how we can be a culture and how you can relate to each other I think that would . . . be nice.

Coaches encouraged athletes to acquire information about healthy eating habits. P2 was
asked how coaches should communicate information about the body or eating habits and stated,
“I wouldn’t mind having a nutritionist come in or like maybe a like . . . a doctor like telling
people like how to eat better.” Some athletes reported that coaches recommended nutritionists
speak to the team as a group. However, the athletes felt that unless there was a follow-up about
seeing a nutritionist from the coaches, the information would be misused or forgotten:

When we did have the nutritionist come in it was like okay, like we’re gonna have you talk to
the nutritionist now and then it was like after that like, nutrition was never mentioned again
like . . . repeated throughout the season ya know make sure you’re still, ya know, being healthy
and . . . you’re not overdoing it . . . or else, I think it, or I think it gets lost. P4

Overall, the athletes felt that they did not receive enough direction from their coaches with
respect to healthy eating. For instance, P2 was adamant in stating,

I feel like they [coach staff] don’t teach us enough what to eat. I mean I feel like most of us,
yeah, we do have a healthy body image but I don’t know if everyone really eats the right things
and the right amount of things a day.

Coaches’ recognition of body change should include both recognition of body change and
direction for maintaining a nutritious diet. Coaches communicated to athletes that nutritionists
can provide the team with suggestions for nutrition. However, athletes generally viewed team
meetings with nutritionists as ineffective, pointing instead to individualized athlete-centered
training as a supportive and helpful form of communicating guidance about sport body image.

COACHES’ COMMUNICATION OF BODY IMAGE 9

Individualized Athlete-Centered Training

Coaches provided individual athletes with helpful, constructive suggestions or directions
during training to communicate guidance about sport body image. Although individualized
athlete-centered training occurred in the sport and training environment, it was described
specifically as a supportive and helpful means of CCSBI. As well, coaches promoted goal-
setting to communicate individually with athletes about their bodies. Athletes also discussed the
importance of recognizing individual differences when developing training plans because all
athletes’ bodies are unique. When discussing important considerations for training regimens,
P8 explained:

I think we [team and coaches] all recognize the individual differences, we all notice when
someone’s stronger in certain areas, like I have better upper body strength than someone, and
someone else has really good lower body strength so when we’re testing lifts . . . we understand
that we are just different that way.

P8 also discussed the need to work personally with athletes to develop diet plans:

It’s nice if there’s a nutritionist or someone knowledgeable in that region that will be willing
to work personally with an athlete to come up with a plan if that can be encouraged, because,
I don’t really like going to the nutritionist once a year, saying . . . this is what you should be
eating, ‘cause it’s not very personal.

The athletes also viewed the coaches’ communication of constructive training feedback
and suggestions as helpful. For example, P2 discussed “making a suggestion like maybe ‘try
this instead of that’ and things like that . . . or like if they suspect someone’s gaining a lot of
weight . . .” P5 also described coaches’ specific suggestions: “They’ll [coaches] ya know make
a suggestion like . . . this is what I kind of think you need to improve on, you might go about
it by doing this, this, and this . . . and I think it would be really helpful.”

Athletes also noted that coaches should sensitively suggest body change to individual
athletes. In discussing strategies for communicating body change, P1 felt that coaches needed
to “be more sensitive, but still be constructive and like, umm, there’s a way to go about it when
you’re not yelling at them but you’re getting, you’re getting your point across.” She went on
to say that body change should be suggested in a conversation. The coach can list positive
comments about the individual athlete’s skills before discussing the body:

I feel like the [body] comment would evoke a negative reaction to the point of feeling like,
like I was saying inadequate as opposed to like you want me to get better, umm, I guess like
if a coach sitting down and saying like umm ‘I’ve noticed that umm, you’re doing really well
in this, you’re doing really well’ in like I guess prefacing it with a whole bunch of positives
before . . . going straight to what they want to encourage you to do like I guess, ‘you’re doing
really well, I’ve seen you improve here, but I feel like you can do better if . . . we together
worked out something that you could do to, to perfect this part of you, your body.’

Strength and conditioning coaches were also seen as playing an important role in providing
supportive, constructive feedback, and suggestions about healthy ways to engage in body
change:

I went to my strength and conditioning coach on my own because I wanted to shed a few
pounds and [coach] . . . was supportive about it and told me healthy ways to do it . . . [coach]

10 A. M. COPPOLA ET AL.

gave suggestions and was just positive about it, [coach] didn’t really judge me on why, [coach]
didn’t ask me why I decided to do it. P3

Goal-setting was presented as a manner in which coaches communicated individually with
athletes about their bodies. Setting a goal for an ideal weight range as opposed to a specific
weight was also an effective communication strategy. For instance, P8 indicated:

We did talk about it [an ideal weight range] with our coaches, we set a goal in the beginning
of the year and, and I guess if you don’t meet your goal then you talk to them again. I never
had that problem, I’ve been lucky to stay within my ideal body weight . . . choosing the actual
number is technically up to us, but we’re definitely encouraged to keep finding it.

Coaches provided individual training suggestions thereby communicating sport body image
in a supportive manner. In addition, coaches used goal-setting as a means of communicating
individual training suggestions and body image differences between athletes. Whereas the
athletes received verbal suggestions about training and nutrition from coaches, athletes also
felt that coaches modeled diet and exercise habits.

Coach as a Role Model

Although the preceding themes focused on coaches’ use of words to communicate sport
body image, their actions were also important in this regard. Coaches modeled healthy diet and
exercise to communicate sport body image. Athletes respected coaches for practicing what
they preached and setting good examples. For example, P2 felt that her coaches,

have tried to be pretty good role models . . . I know one of our coaches is actually a little
overweight and she’s been actually working really hard to lose weight and she’s been doing
actually a really good job and stuff like that but she’s still healthy with it so she’s been setting
a good umm example.

P2 noted that the coach was modeling healthy exercise behavior:

She [coach] tells us like ya know I like ‘I come in here working hard every morning like and
work out before practice at like six o’clock in the morning like you guys can work hard too,’
and like set example by like ya know we all we all can see she’s lost weight and we all can see
that she’s taking the initiative and like trying to get a better body image and umm we’re kind
of like more proud of her for it.

Strength and conditioning coaches in particular were seen as models for healthy dieting.
P6, for instance, was enthusiastic about this characteristic of her weightlifting coach:

My weightlifting coach [WC], every time I see [WC], [WC] is eating like lean steak, or a bell
pepper, which normal people sometimes don’t even do that but [WC] is trying to show us,
practicing what [WC’s] preaching, not saying ‘Oh, do this’ and then behind closed doors doing
something else.

However, not all athletes felt that their coaches were healthy role models. P6 discussed
coaches’ nutritional suggestions and reported that coaches who model unhealthy dieting cannot
be looked to as a healthy example: “I can’t look at my coach eat because [coach] eats crap . . .
[coach] drinks pop, [coach] eats pizza all the time, so can’t really look at [coach] for [a healthy

COACHES’ COMMUNICATION OF BODY IMAGE 11

example].” Some athletes, thus, did not respect coaches who modeled an unhealthy diet. P6
emphatically stated, “You can’t like be hypocritical, if you want somebody to do something
and then you’re not doing that, it’s kind of . . . I wouldn’t understand it and I wouldn’t have
any, I wouldn’t have much respect for that person.”

The athletes, thus, experienced coaches’ modeling of diet and exercise as a means of
communicating sport body image. The athletes described role modeling as “setting a good
example,” but only if the coaches modeled healthy diet and exercise behaviors. Thus, coaches’
actions conveyed a message about the diet and exercise component of sport body image. These
messages either confirmed or discounted verbal messages about diet and exercise.

DISCUSSION

This study explored female athletes’ experiences of coaches’ communication of sport body
image (CCSBI; verbal and non-verbal). Previous research has explored coaches’ critical body-
related comments (e.g., Muscat & Long, 2008) and suggested a number of recommendations
for addressing sport body image with athletes (e.g., NEDA, 2008; Thompson & Sherman,
1999). The current study adds to the sport body image literature by describing CCSBI from
the female athletes’ perspectives to identify opportunities to create dialogue about sport body
image between coaches or coaching staff and athletes. The study also adds to the description
of ways in which coaches communicate body image, such as modeling behaviors, and adds
a description of athletes’ preferences for CCSBI, such as, coaches’ recognition of sport
body image and changes in sport body image. The athletes provided examples of CCSBI that
facilitated healthy changes in body image, such as, individualized athlete-centered training. To
extend upon previous research about recommendations for addressing body image (Thompson
& Sherman, 1999), several considerations and strategies for working individually with athletes
to facilitate healthy sport body image were identified. Thus, one of the key contributions
to the literature is the identification and description of athletes’ experiences of coaches’
individualized athlete-centered training—more specifically, coaches’ communication of goal
setting and guidance regarding changes in female athletes’ sport body image during training.

Coaches encouraged nutrition and physical development during training thereby commu-
nicating a healthy, fit sport body image. Like the athletes in similar studies (e.g., Mosewich
et al., 2009; Smith & Ogle, 2006), those interviewed here described the communication of
the healthy, fit body as emphasizing both muscularity and feelings of healthfulness. Similarly,
Mosewich et al. (2009) indicated that athletes negotiate ideas about muscle tone and muscle
bulk for sport performance, and Smith and Ogle (2006) indicated athletes described physical
functioning and healthfulness as integral to sport performance. This research also supports
previous research of the intrapersonal conflict between the sport and social body ideal (e.g.,
George, 2005; Mosewich et al., 2009), in that there was evidence of this conflict in the athletes’
descriptions of CCSBI. For example, one participant indicated that if muscle bulk is strived
for in sport, one may look manly. However, this research makes a unique contribution in that
the athletes in the current study reported an emphasis on both nutrition and physical develop-
ment as a supportive and acceptable means of communicating sport body image. The athletes
indicated that coaches described physical development and nutrition as central to performing
well and encouraged them through role modeling and in the sport and training environment.

The athletes in this research study indicated that coaches modeled healthy and unhealthy
diet and exercise behaviors. Health educators and teachers have been viewed as role models for
exercising and sport participation (Drummond, McGuire, & Bennett, 2002; Payne, Reynolds,
Brown, & Fleming, 2003). Thus, coaches’ modeling of healthy behaviors is not a surprising

12 A. M. COPPOLA ET AL.

finding given the documented influence of modeling on health behavior change (McAlister,
Perry, & Parcel, 2008). However, there has been little information to date that explores how
athletes experience and perceive coaches’ modeling of diet and exercise habits. The athletes in
the current study viewed coaches who modeled healthy diet and exercise behaviors as setting a
good example; however, those who modeled an unhealthy diet were perceived as hypocritical.
This finding is not presented to be prescriptive for coaches’ diet and exercise habits. The
athletes’ descriptions and perceptions of modeling should be considered or reflected upon
as a means of communicating sport body image. Also to be considered are the practices of
communicating sport body image in the sport and training environment, such as providing
athletes with a choice of participation in weight monitoring and physical development.

Coaches tracked and encouraged physical development in the weight room or through
e-mail messages to communicate sport body image in the sport and training environment. Al-
though coaches should avoid monitoring athletes’ weight and recommending weight change
(e.g., NEDA, 2008; Thompson & Sherman, 1999), the current study extends this recommen-
dation by indicating that coaches should identify athletes’ preferences for monitoring physical
development and identify preferences for coach feedback or guidance to facilitate healthy
changes in physical development of sport body image. When tracking physical development
with weight-lifting sheets and weigh-ins, for instance, coaches provided athletes with guidance
about diet and training. A key contribution to the literature was that tracking physical develop-
ment in the sport environment was preferred if the athletes were provided guidance from the
documented information and were given a choice to participate in physical tests. For instance,
the athletes described that some coaches gave the athletes a choice to participate in testing
body fat percentage. The athletes preferred to track physical development with weight-lifting
sheets to see progress in muscle strength and performance. CCSBI through e-mail messages
was viewed as useful if the information provided guidance about training. However, messages
from coaches that encouraged athletes to conform to a body ideal were viewed as offering
body comparisons or criticisms.

The athletes in this study perceived comparisons and criticisms as unsupportive and unhelp-
ful communication of sport body image, which is consistent with previous research findings
(Mosewich et al., 2009; Muscat & Long, 2008) and is consistent with previous recommenda-
tions of avoiding critical comments (e.g., Thompson & Sherman, 1999). Similarly, Smith and
Ogle (2006) found that female athletes experienced many of the coaches’ comments about
their bodies and abilities as “condemnations and censures” (p. 298). Similar experiences were
reported in the present study. For instance, the athletes viewed critical comments about ath-
letes’ bodies as irrelevant if the athlete was healthy and performing well. Some athletes cited
critical comments as reasons for unhealthy dieting, supporting previous research findings
of the relationship between unhealthy dieting, such as disordered eating, and intrapersonal
and interpersonal body-related pressures (e.g., Beals & Manore, 1994; Kerr et al., 2006;
Muscat & Long, 2008). Notably, the athletes indicated that these comments and criticisms
were regarding body weight or shape and were not regarding diet or exercise habits. From the
athletes’ experiential descriptions of comparisons and criticisms, the current study extends
upon the previous research by concluding that comparisons and criticisms are not only dis-
tressing (Mosewich et al., 2009), but fail to provide supportive guidance or suggestions to
facilitate physical development in sport.

Coaches’ recognition of body change was perceived as an initial, supportive means of
CCSBI. For instance, the athletes preferred that coaches recognize the complexities of body
image and discuss the process of body change. Extending upon Thompson and Sherman’s
(1999) suggestion, it was suggested by the athletes that coaches should still avoid weight-
specific recommendations but also provide feedback and guidance regarding diet and exercise

COACHES’ COMMUNICATION OF BODY IMAGE 13

habits to facilitate healthy changes in sport body image. In fact, the athletes felt that coaches’
encouragement of nutritionist feedback was preferred for providing general guidance and
support for healthy eating habits. However, the athletes preferred suggestions on an individual
basis.

Individualized Training and Goal-Setting to Communicate Sport Body Image

The importance of promoting nutrition for athlete health, and subsequently optimal sport
performance has been documented (e.g., Brownell, Rodin, & Wilmore, 1992). Furthermore,
the relationship between female athletes’ body image, disordered eating, and physical health
has been well-documented (e.g., Greenleaf, Petrie, Carter, & Reel, 2009; Greenleaf, Petrie,
Reel, & Carter, 2010), especially within the literature regarding the female athlete triad, which
consists of three interrelated components: disordered eating, osteoporosis, and amenorrhea
(e.g., Manore, Kam, & Loucks, 2007). The athletes in the present study suggested that coaches
should address each individual athlete’s physical capabilities, and thus, provide support for
nutrition and physical development on an individual basis. These preferences are similar to
existing recommendations of working individually with athletes about body image concerns
(Thompson & Sherman, 1999). The athletes in this study also preferred working with coaches
and coaching staff, such as nutritionists and strength and conditioning coaches, to develop
individualized training plans for nutrition and physical development.

The athletes in the current study indicated that coaches identified nutritionists and strength
and conditioning coaches as sources for diet and training suggestions. This finding is con-
sistent with the previous recommendation to engage the services of a nutritionist for diet
recommendations to address body image concerns and facilitate healthy body image (NEDA,
2008). The athletes in the current study recommended that nutritionists be involved in creat-
ing athletes’ individualized goals and diet plans. Furthermore, in the current study strength
and conditioning coaches were identified as sources for weight training practices, and these
coaches recognized individual athletes’ physical capabilities during training. Coaches and ath-
letic teams may use goal setting to influence performance-related psychological states, such
as anxiety and confidence, and ultimately to achieve optimal performance (Gould, 2010). The
current study offers insight into how coaches and staff may provide guidance regarding athlete
nutrition and physical development through individualized goal-setting to promote healthy
body image.

In the current study, some athletes set goals with coaches for an individual ideal weight
range; however, there are many aspects that impact performance other than the weight or shape
of one’s body, such as nutrition and technical or mental skills (e.g., Brownell et al., 1992;
Williams, 2010). Individualized athlete-centered training, and goal setting, was described
in the study as a means of communicating body image and working individually with the
athlete to provide supportive and helpful suggestions and guidance for nutrition and physical
development. The individualized training may also be a means of creating a dialogue between
coach and athlete about body image. For instance, individualized training and goal setting may
engage the coach and athlete in developing plans based on individual capabilities. This training
support can include suggestions for developing technical skills for a specific sport or short-
term diet and exercise goals. Process goals are short-term, specific, behavioral goals that help
athletes achieve a long-term outcome goal (Gould, 2010). Goal setting for an individualized
weight range may be viewed as positive and helpful for some athletes. However, it may
also be beneficial to set healthy diet and exercise process goals to facilitate healthy body
image because these specific diet and exercise goals may provide athletes with direction for
maintaining healthy nutrition and physical development. Furthermore, if athletes and coaches

14 A. M. COPPOLA ET AL.

set goals together, both are aware of the athlete’s training plan for nutrition and physical
development.

Consideration of Study Limitations and Future Research Directions

This study provides practical suggestions and considerations for working with athletes to
facilitate healthy sport body image. However, these suggestions are intended to help prevent
unhealthy dieting and exercising, and not to treat athletes’ disordered eating or eating disor-
ders. Whereas this study provided an in-depth description of CCSBI, it focused only on the
experiences of one group of college athletes at a NCAA Division I institution. This group had
access to nutritionists and to strength and conditioning coaches. Other college or high school
athletes might not necessarily have the resources to create each individual athlete’s training
plan that incorporates suggestions from multiple members of a coaching staff. However, the
study contributed to the literature by providing insight into athletes’ experiences and prefer-
ences for facilitating healthy sport body image with coaches and a coaching staff. Furthermore,
the sample size and level of participant engagement (i.e., one interview) may be a limitation.

The athletes in the current study had similar experiences of coaches’ encouragement of
muscularity and similar descriptions of coaches’ supportive and unsupportive communication
regardless of sport type. However, athletes’ experiences of CCSBI may differ depending on
the type of muscularity encouraged by coaches. For instance, coaches may encourage muscle
gain in bulk or tone depending on the athletes’ sport and position or event in sport (see also,
Mosewich et al., 2009). Thus, the ability to transfer findings (Lincoln & Guba, 1985) regarding
coaches’ encouragement of muscle gain to both aesthetic and non-aesthetic sport contexts may
be limited. However, whereas previous sport body image research has constructed a dichotomy
of aesthetic and non-aesthetic sports (e.g., de Bruin, Oudejans, & Bakker, 2007), this finding
may suggest that coaches’ encouragement of muscle tone or encouragement of muscle bulk
may also be an important sampling consideration for future CCSBI research. Thus, the manner
in which coaches communicate muscle bulk and muscle tone should be further explored.

Findings from this study provide other direction for future exploration of female athletes’
experiences of CCSBI. A qualitative description of coaches’ experiences of communication
of sport body image may provide additional strategies and considerations for encouraging
athletes’ healthy sport body image. Because many coaches may not implement goal-setting
effectively (Gould, 2010), the manner in which coaches’ goal-setting strategies for nutrition
and physical development influence athletes’ body image perceptions should also be explored
in greater depth. CCSBI should also be explored in a sample of male athletes and other
competitive athletes (e.g., elite and high school athletes).

CONCLUSION

The athletes in this study identified practical implications for encouraging nutrition and
physical development in a supportive manner. They recommended that coaches allow athletes
to choose participation in training practices that monitor development, such as physical tests
and weigh-ins. They also suggested that coaches should provide guidance about nutrition
and physical development throughout training in an effort to support positive body image.
However, recognizing the diversity of athlete preferences, the athletes indicated that coaches
may benefit from providing training recommendations on an individual basis. For instance, as
the athletes indicated, coaches may provide this guidance through individualized goal-setting
with an athlete. Coaches might consider individualized diet and exercise goals to enhance

COACHES’ COMMUNICATION OF BODY IMAGE 15

nutrition and physical development and de-emphasize a focus on body or weight ideals to
avoid the occurrence of coach or athlete body comparisons and criticisms.

REFERENCES

Arthur-Cameselle, J. N., & Baltzell, A. (2012). Learning from collegiate athletes who have recovered
from eating disorders: Advice to coaches, parents, and other athletes with eating disorders. Journal
of Applied Sport Psychology, 24, 1–9. doi:10.1080/10413200.2011.572949

Beals, K. A., & Manore, M. M. (1994). The prevalence and consequences of subclinical eating disorders
in female athletes. International Journal of Sport Nutrition, 4, 175–195.

Biesecker, A. C., & Martz, D. M. (1999). Impact of coaching style on vulnerability for eating disorders:
An analog study. Eating Disorders, 7, 235–244. doi:10.1080/10640269908249289

Bordo, S. (1993). Unbearable weight: Feminism, Western culture, and the body. Berkeley, CA: University
of California Press.

Brownell, K. D., Rodin, J., & Wilmore, J. H. (1992). Eating, body weight, and performance in athletes:
Disorders of modern society. Malvern, PA: Lea & Febiger.

de Bruin, K. A. P., Oudejans, R. R. D., & Bakker, F. C. (2007). Dieting and body image in aesthetic
sports: A comparison of Dutch female gymnasts and non-aesthetic sport participants. Psychology
of Sport and Exercise, 8, 507–520. doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2006.10.002

Drummond, J. L., McGuire, J. G., & Bennett, G. (2002). Student perceptions of exercise role
modeling by secondary health educators. Health Education Journal, 61, 78–86. doi: 10.1177/
001789690206100108

George, M. (2005). Making sense of muscle: The body experiences of collegiate women athletes.
Sociological Inquiry, 75, 317–345. doi: 10.1111/j.1475–682X.2005.00125.x

Gould, D. (2010). Goal setting for peak performance. In J. M. Williams (Eds.),Applied sport psychology:
Personal growth to peak performance (6th ed.; pp. 201–220). Boston: McGraw Hill.

Greenleaf, C. (2002). Athletic body image: Exploratory interview with former competitive female
athletes. Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal, 11, 63–88.

Greenleaf, C. (2004). Weight pressures and social physique anxiety among collegiate synchronized
skaters. Journal of Sport Behavior, 27, 260–276.

Greenleaf, C., Petrie, T. A., Carter, J., & Reel, J. J. (2009). Female collegiate athletes: Prevalence of eating
disorders and disordered eating behaviors. Journal of American College Health, 57, 489–496. doi:
10.3200/JACH.57.5.489–496

Greenleaf, C., Petrie, T. A., Reel, J. J., & Carter, J. (2010). Psychosocial risk factors of bulimic symp-
tomatology among female athletes. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 4, 177–190.

Groenewald, T. (2004). A phenomenological research design illustrated. International Journal of Qual-
itative Methods, 3, 1–26.

Kerr, G., Berman, E., & De Souza, M. J. (2006). Disordered eating in women’s gymnastics: Perspectives
of athletes, coaches, parents, and judges. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 18, 28–43. doi:
10.1080/10413200500471301

Krane, V., Choi, P. Y. L., Baird, S. M., Aimar, C. M., & Kauer, K. J. (2004). Living the paradox:
Female athletes negotiate femininity and muscularity. Sex Roles, 50, 315–329. doi: 10.1023/
B:SERS.0000018888.48437.4f

Krane, V., Waldron, J., Stiles-Shipley, J.A., & Michalenok, J. (2001). Relationships among body dissat-
isfaction, social physique anxiety, and eating behaviors in female athletes and exercisers. Journal
of Sport Behavior, 24, 247–264.

Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
Manore, M. M., Kam, L. C., & Loucks, A. B. (2007). The female athlete triad: Components, nu-

trition issues, and health consequences. Journal of Sports Sciences, 25, 861–871. doi: 10.1080/
02640410701607320

Mason, J. (2002). Qualitative researching (2nd ed.). London: Sage.

16 A. M. COPPOLA ET AL.

McAlister, A. L., Perry, C. L., & Parcel, G. S. (2008). How individuals, environments, and health
behaviors interact: Social cognitive theory. In K. Glanz, B. K. Rimer, & K. Viswanath (Eds.),
Health behavior and health education (4th ed.; pp. 169–185). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Morse, J. M., & Field, P. A. (1995). Qualitative research methods for health professionals (2nd ed.)
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Mosewich, A. D., Vangool, A. B., Kowalski, K. C., & McHugh, T.-L. F. (2009). Exploring women track
and field athletes’ meanings of muscularity. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 21, 99–115. doi:
10.1080/10413200802575742

Muscat, A. C., & Long, B. C. (2008). Critical comments about body shape and weight: Disordered
eating of female athletes and sport participants. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 20, 1–24.
doi: 10.1080/10413200701784833

National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). (2008). Tips and information for coaches: What coaches,
parents, and teammates need to know. Retrieved February 3, 2012 from http://www.national
eatingdisorders.org/information-resources/educator-toolkit.php

Payne, W. R., Reynolds, M., Brown, S., & Fleming, A. (2003). Sports role models and their impact on
participation in physical activity. Victorian Health Promotion Foundation. Retrieved April 10,
2012 from http://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/rhadmin/articles/files/Sports%20Role%20Model%20
Publication.pdf.

Sandelowski, M. (2008). Theoretical saturation. In L. M. Gi ven (Ed.), The Sage encyclopedia of
qualitative methods (Vol. 1, pp. 875–876). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Smith, J. A. (2004). Reflecting on the development of interpretative phenomenological analysis and its
contribution to qualitative research in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 1, 39–54.

Smith, J. A., & Osborn, M. (2003). Interpretative phenomenological analysis. In J. A. Smith (Ed.),
Qualitative psychology: A practical guide to research methods (pp. 53–80). Thousand Oaks, CA:
SAGE Publications Inc.

Smith, P. M., & Ogle, J. P. (2006). Interactions among high school cross-country runners and coaches:
Creating a cultural context for athletes’ embodied experiences. Family and Consumer Sciences
Research Journal, 34, 276–307. doi: 10.1177/1077727X05283598

Thompson, R. A., & Sherman, R. T. (1999). Athletes, athletic performance, and eating disorders:
Healthier alternatives. Journal of Sport Issues, 55, 317–337. doi:10.1111/00224537.00118

Williams, J. M. (2010). Applied sport psychology: Personal growth to peak performance (6th ed.).
Boston,: McGraw Hill.

Copyright of Journal of Applied Sport Psychology is the property of Routledge and its content
may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright
holder’s express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for
individual use.

sustainability

Article

Decreasing Aggression through Team
Communication in Collegiate Athletes

Hunhyuk Choi 1, Jae-Ahm Park 2 and Youngsook Kim 3,*
1 Department of Physical Education, Korea National University of Education, Cheongju 28173, Korea;

[email protected]
2 Department of Sports and Leisure Studies, Daegu University, Daegu 38453, Korea; [email protected]
3 Department of Sport Science, Korea Institute of Sport Science, Seoul 01794, Korea
* Correspondence: [email protected]; Tel.: +82-2-970-9618

Received: 2 April 2019; Accepted: 11 October 2019; Published: 14 October 2019
����������
�������

Abstract: Researchers have been interested in the topic of aggression in sports, and research shows
it may not only hinder team success but also cause serious injuries (e.g., career-ending injuries)
to athletes. Previous studies found that variables (e.g., communication, coaches, and efficacy)
increased or decreased aggression in athletes; however, no studies have been conducted to investigate
a model including these variables and aggression. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to
simultaneously examine the relationships among communication, coach–athlete relationship, team
efficacy, and aggression in team sports. After 294 collegiate athletes playing in team sports completed
the battery of questionnaires, the data were analyzed for descriptive statistics and the structural
equation modeling. The bootstrapping method was utilized to test the mediation effects. The results
showed that communication was positively related to the coach–athlete relationship and team efficacy.
The coach–athlete relationship was positively related to team efficacy which was negatively related to
aggression. The bootstrapping results indicated a significant indirect effect from communication to
aggression through coach–athlete relationship and team efficacy. The current study suggests that
coaches should improve their communication skills to help athletes to have positive perceptions in
the relationships with their coaches, to increase team efficacy, and to reduce aggressive behaviors.

Keywords: communication; coach–athlete relationship; aggression; team efficacy

1. Introduction and Literature Review

The psychology of sustainability and sustainable development which is relatively a new research
of Sustainability Science is centered on the psychological approach in the constructional processes of
sustainability and sustainable development, and it unveils psychological factors which are sustainable
for individuals and also facilitate their well-being in different environments such as personal, social,
and organizational environments [1]. Specifically, based on the psychology of sustainability and
sustainable development perspective in organizations [2], fostering a healthy team environment can
lead to healthy and successful outcomes as well as well-being in team members. As Di Fabio and
Rosen stated “opening the black box of psychological processes“ leads to sustainable development [1],
understanding the psychological processes of the team dynamic is essential to ultimately produce
optimal outcomes and promote sustainability in teams.

Team communication is critical for sharing information, processing decision-making, providing
solutions for problems, resolving team conflicts, and establishing interactional patterns [3,4]. In sports,
effective instruction through clear communication facilitates athletes’ skill development, confidence
improvement, motivation, and satisfaction [5]. Especially, effective communication between team
members (i.e., coaches and athletes, as well as between athletes) enhances team coordination and, in turn,

Sustainability 2019, 11, 5650; doi:10.3390/su11205650 www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability

Sustainability 2019, 11, 5650 2 of 14

team success [6,7]. Communication is also considered a way to build foundations between individuals
by sharing thoughts and emotions and to develop a rapport between coaches and athletes [8]. Effective
(or positive) communication is, for example, that coaches use athlete-supportive, encouraging, and
motivating verbal and non-verbal languages while communicating with athletes, whereas ineffective (or
negative) communication is that coaches use intimidating, criticizing, yelling, and ignoring/disrespectful
languages [5]. Therefore, coaches’ interaction and effective communication between coaches and
athletes influences athletes’ development, performance, behaviors, psychological and emotional
well-being, motivation, and sport persistence [9–12]. Given the open flow of communication in a close
relationship, a co-oriented view can be created between coaches and athletes [13].

The formation of a close relationship based on trust and respect between the coach and
athletes is essential for effective communication in order to lead to compatible coach–athlete
partnerships [14]. The nature and quality of the relationship established between coaches and athletes
affects athletes’ physical and psychological development, well-being, skill development, and athletic
performance [15–17]. The relationship quality is also associated with athletes’ perceived training and
performance satisfaction, physical self-concept, motivation, and passion [18–21]. Various conceptual
models of the coach–athlete relationship were developed and examined [9,22]. As aforementioned, the
open flow of communication results in co-orientation that represents coaches’ and athletes’ shared
perspectives such as goals, values, and beliefs [23]. Shared knowledge and understanding made
coaches and athletes appropriately work for each other’s needs, aspirations, and problems [15,22].
Communication enables coaches and athletes to develop co-orientation [24]. Although the original
definition of co-orientation focused on relationship members’ perceptual consensus [25], co-orientation
is closely related to effective communication, and previous research on the relationship between
communication and successful performance showed similar results [26]. When coaches effectively
communicated with athletes, athletes tried to achieve their goals [27]. Even though communication
is the critical factor influencing athletes and team performance, as these studies illustrated, research
examining the relationship between communication between team members and the coach–athlete
relationship has been insufficient. Therefore, our first hypothesis was the following:

Hypothesis 1. Communication has a positive effect on coach–athlete relationship.

In relation to communication and coach–athlete relationship, shared trust between team members
and team efficacy have been known as factors that help to maximize team function, motivation,
and persistence in teams [28–30]. Team efficacy is shared confidence within a team to successfully
accomplish collective tasks [31], and it is also considered individual perceptions in a team toward
the team’s capabilities [32]. Team efficacy is a crucial factor that influences team success [33,34];
research on team efficacy has been rare and limited in the sport psychology discipline. Team
performance (achievement) especially can be enhanced by strengthening communication, cohesion,
and skill usage. Successful experience also has a positive influence on team efficacy [35,36].
Additionally, communication is known to be a critical factor in predicting team efficacy between
athletes and coaches [37]. Positive communication during competitions contributed to increased team
performance [38]; whereas, negative communication was an obstruction for teams [39]. Moreover,
the coach–athlete relationship as a psychological construct reflects social interpersonal nature and
interaction within sport teams [40], and the quality of the coach–athlete relationship is directly and
indirectly linked to collective efficacy [40–42]. The coach–athlete relationship is how athletes perceive
their relationship with their coaches. As an antecedent of team efficacy within sport teams [35],
Jowett et al. [40], for example, found that athletes’ perception on the relationship with their coaches
positively influenced team efficacy. Therefore, we hypothesized as follows:

Hypothesis 2. Communication has a positive effect on team efficacy.

Hypothesis 3. Coach–athlete relationship has a positive effect on team efficacy.

Sustainability 2019, 11, 5650 3 of 14

In competitive sport situations, athletes often experience negative emotions (e.g., anxiety,
frustration, and anger) which hinder optimal performance and team success. Recently, aggression
has been the focus of attention because of its ability to influence the mental and physical health
of athletes. Aggression that consists of anger and aggressiveness (i.e., aggressive behavior) can
even cause critical issues such as serious injuries which may terminate athletes’ careers [43–45].
The aggressiveness appearing in adolescence tends to lead to school maladjustment such as low
academic achievement or dropout and predicts the involvement of antisocial behavior or crime in
adulthood [46]. Sport psychologists and sociologists have examined the concept of aggression and the
relationship between aggression and other related factors (antecedents and consequences). In early
research, aggression was defined as behaviors with intentions to harm another person physically and
psychologically [47,48]. In addition, athletes’ aggression was defined as intentional behaviors aiming
to harm opponents physically and psychologically whether it was socially acceptable or not [49]. To
explain aggressive behaviors more clearly, various personal, emotional, and social variables also need
to be studied together [50–52]. Studies showed male athletes experienced greater competitiveness and
less empathy than female athletes, and thus male athletes generally scored higher on aggression than
female athletes scored [53,54]; however, Keeler [55] reported there were no significant gender effects
on aggression after controlling for basic demographic variables. Effective communication between
coaches and athletes in competitive sports significantly influenced athlete aggressive behaviors during
games [56]. For example, coaches’ verbal aggressiveness was negatively related to athletes’ intrinsic
motivation, effort, and competence, and positively associated with anxiety [57]. In line with social
learning theory [58], previous research indicated that athletes learned aggression from observation
and indirect experiences from aggressive behaviors of coaches and peer athletes [59]. Young athletes
also learned aggression through observing and modeling adult athletes who achieved their goals by
aggressive behaviors [60]. Intriguingly, athletes in team sports (especially physical interactional sports
such as rugby and soccer) showed a more aggressive disposition compared to athletes in individual
sports [61]. In this perspective, immoral team environment and coaches’ behaviors may influence
aggressive behavior in athletes [62]. Hodge and Ronsdale [63] reported that athletes who had good
relationships with their coach showed less antisocial behavior and more social behavior. Aggression
is a team problem as well as an individual problem [64]. Another study illustrated that aggression
was an important factor for the belief of team efficacy [65]. Furthermore, the potential aggression of
athletes in team sports influenced their emotions, team environment, and performance negatively, and
consequently, it could intimidate positive values and functions of sports [66]. While team efficacy
is one of the important antecedent factors influencing the aggression of athletes, in many studies,
the relationship between team efficacy and aggressive behavior has not been examined empirically.
Therefore, we hypothesized as follows:

Hypothesis 4. Communication has a negative effect on aggression.

Hypothesis 5. Coach–athlete relationship has a negative effect on aggression.

Hypothesis 6. Team efficacy has a negative effect on aggression.

Importantly, researchers [67–71] have reported effective communication is one of the key factors to
build strong social cohesion (i.e., interpersonal relationship) between coaches and athletes and between
athletes and athletes, increase collective efficacy, help athletes regulate their negative emotions and
behaviors such as anxiety and aggression, and finally contribute to team success and sustainability.
Identifying factors related to aggression is essential to manage the various aggressive behaviors in
sports situations and prevent athletes from serious injuries. However, only limited research has been
conducted to examine the relationships among the variables, and no study has tested the variables
simultaneously. Thus, the primary purpose of this study was simultaneously to investigate how team
communication, team efficacy, and coach–athlete relationship influence aggression in order to reveal

Sustainability 2019, 11, 5650 4 of 14

fundamental information for decreasing athletes’ aggression level. The hypothesis of the current study
is as follows:

Hypothesis 7. Communication has an indirect effect on aggression mediated by coach–athlete relationship and
team efficacy.

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. Participants

We used purposeful sampling to recruit participants of this study. The participants were 294 Korean
collegiate athletes (265 males and 29 females) in team sports with a mean of 21.51 (SD = 1.32) years
old and also a mean of 9.78 (SD = 2.18) years of athletes’ experience. They responded to a battery of
questions to measure team communication, coach–athlete relationship, team efficacy, and aggression.
They were active members of team sports including basketball (n = 83, 28.2%), volleyball (n = 12,
4.1%), baseball (n = 86, 29.3%), soccer (n = 74, 25.1%), and handball (n = 39, 13.3%). Also, 76 (25.85%)
of the participants had experience at the national representative level. After 29 questionnaires were
discarded because of excessive missing values, 265 questionnaires were used for the analysis. General
characteristics of the participants in this study are shown in Table 1 below.

Table 1. General characteristics of the participants (n = 294).

Characteristics Category Frequency (n) Present (%)

Sex
Male 265 90.1

Female 29 9.9

Age

20 79 26.9
21 76 25.8
22 72 24.5
23 52 17.7

24 or older 15 5.1

School year

Freshmen 79 26.9
Sophomores 76 25.8

Juniors 72 24.5
Seniors 52 17.7

Graduate school 15 5.1

Type of Sports

Basketball 83 28.2
Volleyball 12 4.1
Baseball 86 29.3
Soccer 74 25.1

Handball 39 13.3

2.2. Measures

The participants in this study were asked to complete a demographic questionnaire (e.g., sex, age,
school year, and type of sports), the Korean version of the Scale of Effective Communication in Team
Sports (SECTS-K), the Korean version of the Coach–Athlete Relationship Questionnaire (KrCART-Q),
the Korean version of Collective Efficacy Questionnaire for Sports (CEQS), and the short version of
competitive aggressiveness and anger scale (CAAS).

The SECTS-K was used to assess team communication. Choi et al. [72] modified the original
SECTS-2 [73] by considering Korean culture and an understanding of Korean collegiate athletes. Team
communication consists of 14 items in 3 factors measured on a 7-point Likert scale, which are acceptance
and conflict (i.e., trust each other, communicate honestly and directly, share thoughts and feelings
with one another; e.g., Try to make sure all players are included; 6 items, α = 0.84), particularity (i.e.,

Sustainability 2019, 11, 5650 5 of 14

use nicknames, languages, gestures that only team members can understand; e.g., Use slang that only
team members would understand; 3 items, α = 0.79), and negative conflict (i.e., express negative feelings;
e.g., Show that we lose our temper; 3 items, α = 0.69). A higher score indicates a higher level of team
communication. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) of the SECTS-K was performed, and Table 2
shows the standardized loading values and composite reliabilities of subcomponents in the SECTS-K.

Table 2. Standardized factor loading values and composite reliability.

Latent Variable Item Standardized Loading Values C.R

Acceptance & conflict

1 0.704

0.879

2 0.617
3 0.780
4 0.735
5 0.766
6 0.782

particularity
1 0.632

0.7532 0.708
3 0.694

Negative conflict
1 0.621

0.7222 0.610
3 0.676

The KrCART-Q [74] was used to measure how athletes perceived their relationship with their
coaches. The original CART-Q [21] was modified, and the KrCART-Q consists of 11 items in 3 factors
measured on a 7-point Likert scale: closeness (i.e., perceptions of intimacy with each other; e.g., I like my
coach; 4 items, α = 0.95), commitment (i.e., intentions to develop and maintain the relationship; e.g., I am
committed to my coach; 3 items, α = 0.91), and complementarity (i.e., cooperative interactions between
each other; e.g., when I am coached by my coach, I am responsive to his/her efforts; 4 items, α = 0.94). A higher
score indicated a higher level of coach–athlete relationship. CFA of the KrCART-Q was performed,
and Table 3 shows the standardized loading values and composite reliabilities of subcomponents in
the KrCART-Q.

Table 3. Standardized factor loading values and composite reliability.

Latent Variable Item Standardized Loading Values C.R

Closeness

1 0.903

0.917
2 0.945
3 0.951
4 0.872

Commitment
1 0.865

0.8422 0.879
3 0.891

Complementarity

1 0.839

0.903
2 0.926
3 0.919
4 0.919

Team efficacy was measured by the Korean version of CEQS [75]. The original CEQS was
developed by Short et al. [76]. This scale consists of 15 items in 4 factors: team strategy (e.g., we are
strong on set plays; 4 items, α = 0.81), enough training (e.g., we have been enough training for the season/game;
3 items, α = 0.90), trust for leaders (e.g., we trust coaches and staff ; 4 items, α = 0.94), and effective
communication (e.g., we well communicate each other during a game; 4 items α = 0.92). This scale was also
measured on a 7-point Likert scale. A higher score indicated a higher level of team efficacy. CFA of the

Sustainability 2019, 11, 5650 6 of 14

CEQS was performed, and Table 4 shows the standardized loading values and composite reliabilities
of subcomponents in the CEQS.

Table 4. Standardized factor loading values and composite reliability.

Latent Variable Item Standardized Loading Values C.R

Team strategy

1 0.696

0.724
2 0.762
3 0.885
4 0.602

Enough training
1 0.892

0.8522 0.903
3 0.793

Trust for leaders

1 0.837

0.890
2 0.912
3 0.920
4 0.897

Effective communication

1 0.869

0.893
2 0.923
3 0.858
4 0.820

The CAAS was translated and modified into Korean [49] and used to measure trait anger and
aggressiveness in competitive athletes. This scale consists of 2 factors with 12 items measured on
a 5-point Likert scale: trait anger (e.g., I get mad towards my opponent if I lose; 6 items, α = 0.82) and
competitive aggressiveness (e.g., it is ok to us physical force to win a game; 6 items, α = 0.85). A higher
score indicated a higher level of aggression. CFA of the CASS was performed, and Table 5 shows the
standardized loading values and composite reliabilities of subcomponents in the CAAS.

Table 5. Standardized factor loading values and composite reliability.

Latent Variable Item Standardized Loading Values C.R

Anger

1 0.523

0.778
2 0.466
3 0.760
4 0.845
5 0.583

Aggressiveness

1 0.484

0.847

2 0.681
3 0.751
4 0.643
5 0.857
6 0.759

2.3. Procedures and Research Design

After obtaining the Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval, the first author contacted college
sport team coaches in Korea to explain the purpose of this study and gain their permission to recruit
participants (i.e., student-athletes). With coaches’ permission, the authors visited athletes before
their practices. The coaches introduced the authors to their athletes and left the sites. The authors
first explained the purpose of this study and informed the athletes that their participation was fully
anonymous and voluntary. They were told to ask any questions before, during, and after completing
the survey. After signing a written consent form and completing the survey, they put the survey in an

Sustainability 2019, 11, 5650 7 of 14

envelope and left the sites. It took approximately 20 min for the participants to complete the survey.
Because a cross-sectional research design was used for this study, the data were collected once.

2.4. Statistical Analysis

SPSS 22.0 was used to calculate the descriptive statistics, and AMOS 22.0 was used to conduct
structural equation modeling (SEM) to identify the relationships among team communication,
coach–athlete relationship, team efficacy, and aggressiveness. Following Anderson and Gerbing’s
two-step approach in SEM [77], the measurement model was examined before verifying the structural
model. For the mediation effect analysis, 2000 bootstrap samples were requested.

3. Results

3.1. Descriptive Statistics

Table 6 presents the means and standard deviations. All variables demonstrated satisfactory
univariate skewness (<2) and kurtosis (<2). The sample reported high levels of communication,
coach–athlete relationship, and team efficacy, as indicated on the seven-point Likert scale
(communication M = 4.62, SD = 0.67, coach–athlete relationship M = 5.15, SD = 1.19, team efficacy
M = 5.09, SD = 0.96). The sample reported moderate-to-low levels of aggression on the five-point
Likert scale (aggression M = 2.84, SD = 0.78).

Table 6. Means (M), standard deviation (SD), skewness, and kurtosis.

Scale M SD Skewness Kurtosis

Communication 4.62 0.67 0.671 0.656
Coach–athlete relationship 5.15 1.19 −0.479 0.491

Team efficacy 5.09 0.96 −0.312 0.279
Aggression 2.84 0.78 −0.214 0.048

3.2. Measurement Model

A measurement model was examined with saturated pathways. The pathways of latent variables
(measurement variables) are illustrated in Table 7. The fit of the measurement model was acceptable
(χ2 = 240.97, df = 71, TLI = 0.90, CFI = 0.92, RMSEA = 0.08). The correlation analysis results showed
that communication had a positive relationship with coach–athlete relationship (r = 0.56) and team
efficacy (r = 0.79) but a negative relationship with aggression (r = −0.32). Additionally, a positive
correlation between coach–athlete relationship and team efficacy (r = 0.74) was observed, but there was
a negative relationship between coach–athlete relationship and aggression (r = −0.16). Team efficacy
had a negative relationship with aggression (r = −0.34).

Table 7. Factor correlations among the study variables.

Variable Variable Estimate

communication ↔ Coach–athlete relationship 0.561
communication ↔ Team efficacy 0.789
communication ↔ Aggression −0.322

Coach–athlete relationship ↔ Team efficacy 0.743
Coach–athlete relationship ↔ Aggression −0.163

Team efficacy ↔ Aggression −0.335

3.3. Structural Model

The structural model was verified, and the fit was found to be acceptable (χ2 = 240.97, df = 71,
TLI = 0.90, CFI = 0.92, RMSEA = 0.08, SRMR = 0.076). In the model, communication was set as
an exogenous variable, and coach–athlete relationship and team efficacy were set as endogenous

Sustainability 2019, 11, 5650 8 of 14

and mediating variables. Furthermore, aggression was set as a dependent variable. As indicated in
Figure 1, there were significant positive pathways from communication to coach–athlete relationship
(H1: β = 0.56, p < 0.001) and to team efficacy (H2: β = 0.54, p < 0.001). Coach–athlete relationship was
significantly related to team efficacy (H4: β = 0.43, p < 0.001). Team efficacy had a significant, negative
association with aggression (H6: β = −0.36, p < 0.001), whereas coach–athlete relationship did not have
a significant association with aggression (H5). The bootstrapping result indicated a significant indirect
effect from communication to aggression through coach–athlete relationship and team efficacy in the
model (H7: β = −0.088, p < 0.01). Standardized path coefficients for the structural model are shown
in Table 8 below.

Table 8. Standardized path coefficients for the structural model.

Hypothesized Path
b

Direct Indirect

H1: Communication → coach–athlete relationship 0.561 ***
H2: Communication → team efficacy 0.544 ***

H3: Communication → aggression −0.141
H4: Coach–athlete relationship → team efficacy 0.438 ***

H5: Coach–athlete relationship → aggression 0.183
H6: Team efficacy → aggression −0.360 ***

H7: Communication → coach–athlete relationship → team efficacy → aggression −0.088 **

** p < 0.01, *** p < 0.001, b = standardized regression weight.

Sustainability 2019, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 8 of 14

H2: Communication → team efficacy 0.544 ***
H3: Communication → aggression −0.141

H4: Coach–athlete relationship → team efficacy 0.438 ***
H5: Coach–athlete relationship → aggression 0.183

H6: Team efficacy → aggression −0.360 ***
H7: Communication → coach–athlete relationship → team efficacy →

aggression
−0.088 **

** p < 0.01, *** p < 0.001, b = standardized regression weight

Figure 1. Structural equation model with standardized estimates among variables. Only significant
paths are presented. The paths were significant at level p < 0.001.

4. Discussion

The research results related to team sports indicated that effective communication has a positive
influence on performance and competition results by improving the quality of the coach–athlete
relationship and team efficacy and by decreasing aggression. In addition, recent coach–athlete
relationship studies focused first on relational approaches in which coaches and athletes perceived
themselves mutually in a friendly way, and second on the psychological influences of coach–athlete
relationship. However, these studies suffer some limitations because they only considered an
individual approach without group processes. Therefore, this study examined the effect of
communication on aggression, with the coach–athlete relationship and team efficacy as mediating
factors.

First, communication had a significant positive association with coach–athlete relationship
(Hypothesis 1). This finding is consistent with previous studies that indicated the importance of
communication on building and maintaining the quality relationship between coaches and athletes
[8,9,13,14,22–25]. This finding is also well supported by the four stages of the linear group
development theory, which states that a team goes through four stages to be an ideal team and that
subjective and open communication is a key that can resolve conflicts, replace hostility with solidarity
and cooperation, and stabilize interpersonal relationships [53]. Carron et al. [28] reported that team
communication is necessary for the development of team structure and team maintenance.
Furthermore, they suggested that decision-making, goal-setting, cooperation, team building,
position, leadership, and conflicts in the team are also related to team communication [28]. Athletes
especially perceived the evaluation of coaches and the effects of training differently depending on
the communication style of the coaches. In other words, athletes prefer coaches who talk comfortably
with consideration for the athletes while communicating. It also makes athletes believe that their
training is more effective.

Second, communication had a significant positive relation to team efficacy (Hypothesis 2). This
finding supports the previous research finding that effective communication among team members
increased self-efficacy and collective efficacy and in turn performance [78]. The critical factors of team
success are team communication, team cohesion, and skill enhancement [32]; thus, team outcomes

Figure 1. Structural equation model with standardized estimates among variables. Only significant
paths are presented. The paths were significant at level p < 0.001.

4. Discussion

The research results related to team sports indicated that effective communication has a positive
influence on performance and competition results by improving the quality of the coach–athlete
relationship and team efficacy and by decreasing aggression. In addition, recent coach–athlete
relationship studies focused first on relational approaches in which coaches and athletes perceived
themselves mutually in a friendly way, and second on the psychological influences of coach–athlete
relationship. However, these studies suffer some limitations because they only considered an individual
approach without group processes. Therefore, this study examined the effect of communication on
aggression, with the coach–athlete relationship and team efficacy as mediating factors.

First, communication had a significant positive association with coach–athlete relationship
(Hypothesis 1). This finding is consistent with previous studies that indicated the importance
of communication on building and maintaining the quality relationship between coaches and
athletes [8,9,13,14,22–25]. This finding is also well supported by the four stages of the linear group
development theory, which states that a team goes through four stages to be an ideal team and that
subjective and open communication is a key that can resolve conflicts, replace hostility with solidarity

Sustainability 2019, 11, 5650 9 of 14

and cooperation, and stabilize interpersonal relationships [53]. Carron et al. [28] reported that team
communication is necessary for the development of team structure and team maintenance. Furthermore,
they suggested that decision-making, goal-setting, cooperation, team building, position, leadership,
and conflicts in the team are also related to team communication [28]. Athletes especially perceived
the evaluation of coaches and the effects of training differently depending on the communication style
of the coaches. In other words, athletes prefer coaches who talk comfortably with consideration for the
athletes while communicating. It also makes athletes believe that their training is more effective.

Second, communication had a significant positive relation to team efficacy (Hypothesis 2). This
finding supports the previous research finding that effective communication among team members
increased self-efficacy and collective efficacy and in turn performance [78]. The critical factors of team
success are team communication, team cohesion, and skill enhancement [32]; thus, team outcomes
can be improved or decreased by these factors. If team members do not communicate well within
the team, the team members will not be cohesive and cooperative emotionally. As explained by the
shared mental model [79,80], the result of effective verbal and non-verbal communication enables
team members to build strong shared trust on performance ability and team work, anticipate one
another’s behaviors, and coordinate their actions. Therefore, team members, including athletes,
should communicate with each other consistently and effectively for team cohesion, team efficacy, and
consequently team performance.

The coach–athlete relationship had a positive influence on team efficacy (Hypothesis 4). Recent
studies on the coach–athlete relationship [40,81] emphasized on the two-way communication with
a relational perspective. In team sports, trust between team members should be shared to achieve
team goals. In addition, the coach–athlete relationship is important, as well as building trust between
athletes during training and competition. With a qualitatively facilitated coach–athlete relationship,
team members can have strong team cohesion and team efficacy. In the sport field, coaches and athletes
are strongly emphasized to interact consistently. The coach–athlete relationship is an important factor
that determines team cohesion, team efficacy, and team success (team performance). According to
Jowett et al. [38], the interpersonal factor was divided into the coach–athlete relationship and team
cohesion. Additionally, they reported that the coach–athlete relationship had more influence on team
efficacy than team cohesion.

Team efficacy had a negative influence on aggression (Hypothesis 6), whereas coach–athlete
relationship was not significantly associated with aggression (Hypothesis 5). Both findings were
consistent with previous research showing there was insignificant association with the relationship
between teacher–student relationship and aggression but significant association with the relationship
between student–student relationship and aggression [82]. In previous studies [76,83], team efficacy
was influenced by significant others such as coaches, team captain, and leading players. We can easily
observe and experience the situation that athletes in sports team are trying to become cohesive by
shouting “We are one team, and we can do it.” In this situation, the cohesion of the team increased.
Therefore, aggressive behaviors during games decrease when players understand the importance of
team cohesion and have fewer negative conflicts with other players.

Lastly, communication had a significant indirect effect on aggression mediated by coach–athlete
relationship and team efficacy supporting Hypothesis 7. This study emphasized the importance
of communication between coaches and athletes as the main factor and coach–athlete relationship
and team efficacy as the mediating factors that control aggression in athletes. As Hypothesis 4
as well as Hypothesis 7, we expected to have partial mediation effects. That is, communication
would have a direct association with aggression and an indirect association with aggression through
coach–athlete relationship and team efficacy; however, communication was not significantly associated
with aggression. The meaningful pathway that was found confirmed indications that effective
communication enhanced the quality of the coach–athlete relationship, team efficacy, and consequently
decreased athletes’ aggression. This supports previous research which found that fostering sustainable
social environment decreased aggression [82].

Sustainability 2019, 11, 5650 10 of 14

There are several limitations to generalize the current findings. First, this study used a
cross-sectional design to collect the data to examine the mediation effects of coach–athlete relationship
and team efficacy on the relationship between communication and team efficacy. Because the data were
collected only once, the results cannot provide clear causal relationships among variables in this study.
Although aggression is generally considered more of a personality trait, it is possible that athletes
may have higher levels of aggression during season than off season. Thus, a longitudinal approach to
examine the relationship between communication and aggression with mediating variables should
be conducted in future research. Second, this study did not analyze the data by sex (e.g., male vs.
female), age (e.g., middle school, high school, and college), or sport types (e.g., collision type vs. contact
type vs. non-contact type sports) because of the small sample size per group for the invariance test.
For example, males from general psychology are usually more aggressive than females, but that is not
always true. The results of the gender effects in a specific sport context are still equivocal. Therefore,
future research should have enough sample size per group for the invariance test in order to find
effects of moderating variables on the relationship between communication and aggression.

5. Conclusions

This study was an initial attempt to investigate the relationship between communication,
coach–athlete relationship, team efficacy, and aggression in Korean collegiate athletes. The results
of this study indicated that communication was positively related to the coach–athlete relationship
and team efficacy. The coach–athlete relationship was positively related to team efficacy which
was negatively related to aggression. There was a significant indirect effect from communication to
aggression through coach–athlete relationship and team efficacy.

This study sheds light on that effective communication is an initial key factor to facilitate team
environment and sequentially change variables in a team to regulate athletes’ aggression; therefore,
coaches should pay attention on improving their communication skills to help athletes control their
aggression. We believe that sport organizations and schools should provide educational workshops
and programs for coaches to improve effective communication skills. The current study also provided
a theoretical model of communication-aggression through coach–athlete relationship and team efficacy.
Different perspectives were utilized to understand the possible relationship between the variables
and aggression. As previous studies have mostly focused on what variables could enhance athletic
performance so as to optimize team performance and win; however, not many studies have investigated
the factors that might hinder team success. Given that notion, this study provides valuable practical
information for coaches, athletes, educators in sports, and consultants. As Carron and Hausenblas [28]
emphasized, active interaction with coaches and athletes in a team is essential to produce optimal
performance. This study emphasizes on the importance of communication within team members
(especially, coaches, and athletes) to improve the quality of coach–athlete relationship and increase
team efficacy for fostering sustainable team environment in order to decrease aggression in athletes.

Author Contributions: Conceptualization, H.C., and Y.K.; methodology, H.C.; formal analysis, H.C.; data curation,
H.C.; writing—original draft preparation, H.C., J.-A.P., and Y.K.; writing—review and editing, H.C., J.-A.P.,
and Y.K.; funding acquisition, H.C.

Funding: This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National
Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2016S1A5B5A07921515).

Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

References

1. Di Fabio, A.; Rosen, M.A. Opening the black box of psychological processes in the science of sustainable
development: A new frontier. Eur. J. Sustain. Dev. Res. 2018, 2, 47. [CrossRef]

2. Di Fabio, A. The psychology of sustainability and sustainable development for well-being in organizations.
Front. Psychol. 2017, 8, 1534. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

Sustainability 2019, 11, 5650 11 of 14

3. Boyd, D.E.; Webb, K.L. Interorganizational ethical conflict within alliances: A conceptual framework and
research propositions. J. Bus.-Bus. Mark. 2008, 15, 1–24. [CrossRef]

4. Kozlowski, S.W.; Bell, B.S. Work groups and teams in organizations. Handb. Psychol. 2003, 12, 333–375.
[CrossRef]

5. Sagar, S.S.; Jowett, S. Communicative acts in coach-athlete interactions: When losing competitions and when
making mistakes in training. West. J. Comm. 2002, 76, 148–174. [CrossRef]

6. Eccles, D.W.; Tran, K.B. Getting them on the same page: Strategies for enhancing coordination and
communication in sports teams. J. Sport Psychol. Action 2012, 3, 30–40. [CrossRef]

7. Salmela, J.H. Great Job, Coach!: Getting the Edge from Proven Winners; Potentium: Ottawa, ON, Canada, 1996.
8. Philippe, R.A.; Seiler, R. Closeness, co-orientation and complementarity in coach–athlete relationships: What

male swimmers say about their male coaches. Psychol. Sport Exerc. 2006, 7, 159–171. [CrossRef]
9. Poczwardowski, A.; Barott, J.E.; Henschen, K.P. The athlete and coach: Their relationship and its meaning.

Results of an interpretive study. Int. J. Sport Psychol. 2002, 33, 116–140.
10. Martin, M.M.; Rocca, K.A.; Cayanus, J.L.; Weber, K. Relationship between Coaches’ use of Behavor Alteration

Techniques and Verbal Aggression on Athletes’ Motivation and Affect. J. Sport Behav. 2009, 32, 227–241.
11. Smith, R.E.; Smoll, F.L.; Barnett, N.P. Reduction of children’s sport performance anxiety through social

support and stress-reduction training for coaches. J. Appl. Dev. Psychol. 1995, 16, 125–142. [CrossRef]
12. Turman, P.D.; Schrodt, P. New avenues for instructional communication research: Relationships among

coaches’ leadership behaviors and athletes’ affective learning. Commun. Res. Rep. 2004, 21, 130–143.
[CrossRef]

13. Roloff, M.E.; Miller, G.R. Interpersonal Processes: New Directions in Communication Research; Sage: Thousand
Oaks, CA, USA, 1987.

14. Carron, A.V.; Bennett, B.B. Compatibility in the coach-athlete dyad. Res. Quart 1977, 48, 671–679. [CrossRef]
15. Jowett, S.; Cockerill, I.M. Olympic medallists’ perspective of the althlete–coach relationship. Psychol Sport

Exerc 2003, 4, 313–331. [CrossRef]
16. Côté, J.; Gilbert, W. An integrative definition of coaching effectiveness and expertise. Int. J. Sports Sci. Coach

2009, 4, 307–323. [CrossRef]
17. Jowett, S. Interdependence analysis and the 3 + 1Cs in the coach-athlete relationship. In Social Psychology in

Sport; Jowett, S., Lavallee, D., Eds.; Human Kinetics: Champaign, IL, USA, 2007; pp. 15–27.
18. Jowett, S.; Nezlek, J. Relationship interdependence and satisfaction with important outcomes in coach–athlete

dyads. J. Soc. Pers. Relat. 2012, 29, 287–301. [CrossRef]
19. Jowett, S.; Cramer, D. The prediction of young athletes’ physical self from perceptions of relationships with

parents and coaches. Psychol. Sport Exerc. 2010, 11, 140–147. [CrossRef]
20. Adie, J.W.; Jowett, S. Meta-perceptions of the coach–athlete relationship, achievement goals, and intrinsic

motivation among sport participants. J. Appl. Soc. Psychol. 2010, 40, 2750–2773. [CrossRef]
21. Lafrenière, M.A.K.; Vallerand, R.J.; Donahue, R.; Lavigne, G.L. On the costs and benefits of gaming: The role

of passion. Cyberpsychol. Behav. 2009, 12, 285–290. [CrossRef]
22. Jowett, S.; Meek, G.A. The coach-athlete relationship in married couples: An exploratory content analysis.

Sport Psychol. 2000, 14, 157–175. [CrossRef]
23. Jowett, S.; Ntoumanis, N. The coach–athlete relationship questionnaire (CART-Q): Development and initial

validation. Scand. J. Med. Sci. Sports 2004, 14, 245–257. [CrossRef]
24. Duck, S. Meaningful Relationships: Talking, Sense, and Relating; Sage: Thousand Oaks, CA, USA, 1994.
25. Newcomb, T.M. An approach to the study of communicative acts. Psychol. Rev. 1953, 60, 393. [CrossRef]

[PubMed]
26. Gould, D.; Guinan, D.; Greenleaf, C.; Medbery, R.; Peterson, K. Factors affecting Olympic performance:

Perceptions of athletes and coaches from more and less successful teams. Sport Psychol. 1999, 13, 371–394.
[CrossRef]

27. Loughead, T.M.; Carron, A.V. The mediating role of cohesion in the leader behavior–satisfaction relationship.
Psychol. Sport Exerc. 2004, 5, 355–371. [CrossRef]

28. Carron, A.V.; Hausenblas, H.A.; Eys, M.A. Group Dynamics in Sport; Fitness Information Technology:
Morgantown, WV, USA, 2005.

29. Feltz, D.L.; Short, S.E.; Sullivan, P.J. Self-Efficacy in Sport; Human Kinetics: Champaign, IL, USA, 2008.

Sustainability 2019, 11, 5650 12 of 14

30. Myers, N.D.; Feltz, D.L. From self-efficacy to collective efficacy in sport: Transitional methodological issues.
In Handbook of Sport Psychology, 3rd ed.; Tenenbaum, G., Eklund, R.C., Eds.; Wiley: New York, NY, USA, 2007;
pp. 799–819.

31. Zaccaro, S.J.; Blair, V.; Peterson, C.; Zazanis, M. Collective efficacy. In Self-Efficacy, Adaptation, and Adjustment;
Maddux, J., Ed.; Plenum: New York, NY, USA, 1995; pp. 305–328.

32. Bandura, A. Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control; W.H. Freeman: New York, NY, USA, 1997.
33. Myers, N.D.; Feltz, D.L.; Short, S.E. Collective Efficacy and Team Performance: A Longitudinal Study of

Collegiate Football Teams. Group Dyn. 2004, 8, 126–138. [CrossRef]
34. Myers, N.D.; Payment, C.A.; Feltz, D.L. Reciprocal Relationships Between Collective Efficacy and Team

Performance in Women’s Ice Hockey. Group Dyn. 2004, 8, 182–195. [CrossRef]
35. Feltz, D.L.; Lirgg, C.D. Perceived team and player efficacy in hockey. J. Appl. Psychol. 1998, 83, 557–564.

[CrossRef]
36. Kozub, S.A.; McDonnell, J.F. Exploring the relationship between cohesion and collective efficacy in rugby

teams. J. Sport Behav. 2000, 23, 120–129.
37. Fransen, K.; Vanbeselaere, N.; Exadaktylos, V.; Vande Broek, G.; De Cuyper, B.; Berckmans, D.; Ceux, T.;

De Backer, M.; Boen, F. “Yes, we can!”: Perceptions of collective efficacy sources in volleyball. J. Sport Sci.
2012, 30, 641–649. [CrossRef]

38. LeCouteur, A.; Feo, R. Real-time communication during play: Analysis of team-mates’ talk and interaction.
Psychol. Sport Exerc. 2011, 12, 124–134. [CrossRef]

39. Apitzsch, E. A case study of a collapsing handball team. In Dynamics within and Outside the Lab; Jern, S.,
Näslund, J., Eds.; LiU-Tryck: Linköping, Sweden, 2009; pp. 35–52.

40. Jowett, S.; Shanmugam, V.; Caccoulis, S. Collective efficacy as a mediator of the association between
interpersonal relationships and athlete satisfaction in team sports. Int. J. Sport Exerc. Psychol. 2012, 10, 66–78.
[CrossRef]

41. Olympiou, A.; Jowett, S.; Duda, J.L. The psychological interface of the coach-created motivational climate
and the coach-athlete relationship. Sport Psychol. 2008, 22, 423–438. [CrossRef]

42. Jowett, S.; Chaundy, V. An investigation into the impact of coach leadership and coach–athlete relationship
on group cohesion. Group Dyn. 2004, 8, 302–311. [CrossRef]

43. Sacks, D.N.; Petscher, Y.; Stanley, C.T.; Tenenbaum, G. Aggression and violence in sport: Moving beyond the
debate. Int. J. Sport Exerc. Psychol. 2003, 1, 167–179. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

44. Cusimano, M.D.; Sharma, B.; Lawrence, D.W.; Ilie, G.; Silverberg, S.; Jones, R. Trends in North American
newspaper reporting of brain injury in ice hockey. PLoS ONE 2013, 8, e61865. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

45. Cusimano, M.D.; Nastis, S.; Zuccaro, L. Effectiveness of interventions to reduce aggression and injuries
among ice hockey players: A systematic review. Can. Med Assoc. J. 2013, 185, E57–E69. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

46. Mathiesen, K.S.; Sanson, A. Dimensions of early chidhood behavior problems: Stability and predictors of
change from 18 to 30 months. J. Abnorm. Child Psych. 2000, 28, 15–31. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

47. Bandura, A. Social learning theory of aggression. J. Commun. 1978, 28, 12–29. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
48. Silva, J.M. The perceived legitimacy of rule violating behavior in sport. J. Sport Psychol. 1983, 5, 438–448.

[CrossRef]
49. Maxwell, J.P.; Moores, E. The development of a short scale measuring aggressiveness and anger in competitive

athletes. Psychol. Sport Exerc. 2007, 8, 179–193. [CrossRef]
50. Hofmann, V.; Müller, C.M. Avoiding antisocial behavior among adolescents: The positive influence of

classmates’ prosocial behavior. J. Adolesc. 2018, 68, 136–145. [CrossRef]
51. Molero, M.M.; Pérez-Fuentes, M.C.; Carrión, J.J.; Luque, A.; Garzón, A.; Martos, A.; Simón, M.M.;

Barragán, A.B.; Gázquez, J.J. Antisocial behavior and interpersonal values in high school students. Front
Psychol. 2017, 8, 170. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

52. Sánchez-García, M.; Lucas-Molina, B.; Fonseca-Pedrero, E.; Pérez-Albéniz, A.; Paino, M. Emotional and
behavioral difficulties in adolescence: Relationship with emotional well-being, affect, and academic
performance. An. De Psicol. Ann. Psychol. 2018, 34, 482–489. [CrossRef]

53. Stanger, N.; Kavussanu, M.; Ring, C. Gender moderates the relationship between empathy and aggressiveness
in sport: The mediating role of anger. J. Appl. Sport Psychol. 2017, 29, 44–58. [CrossRef]

54. Christoforidis, C.; Kalivas, V.; Matsouka, O.; Bebetsos, E.; Kambas, A. Does gender affect anger and aggression
in handball players? Cyprus J. Sci. 2010, 8, 3–11.

Sustainability 2019, 11, 5650 13 of 14

55. Keeler, L.A. The differences in sport aggression, life aggression, and life assertion among adult male and
female collision, contact, and non-contact sport athletes. J. Sport Behav. 2007, 30, 57–76.

56. Blum, R.H.; Raemer, D.B.; Carroll, J.S.; Dufresne, R.L.; Cooper, J.B. A method for measuring the effectiveness
of simulation-based team training for improving communication skills. Anesth. Analg. 2005, 100, 1375–1380.
[CrossRef]

57. Bekiari, A. Verbal aggressiveness and leadership style of sports instructors and their relationship with
athletes’ intrisic motivation. Creat. Educ. 2014, 5, 114–121. [CrossRef]

58. Bandura, A. Aggression: A Social Learning Analysis; Prentice-Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ, USA, 1973.
59. Hwang, O.C.; Park, J.G. The impacts of adolescent athletes’ passion and perceived coach-athlete relationship

on aggressiveness. Korean J. Phys. Educ. 2012, 51, 279–292.
60. Weinberg, R.S.; Gould, D. Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 7th ed.; Human Kinetics: Champaign,

IL, USA, 2018.
61. Maxwell, J.P. Anger rumination: An antecedent of athlete aggression? Psychol. Sport Exerc. 2004, 5, 279–289.

[CrossRef]
62. Chow, G.M.; Murray, K.E.; Feltz, D.L. Individual, team, and coach predictors of players’ likelihood to aggress

in youth soccer. J. Sport Exerc. Psychol. 2009, 31, 425–443. [CrossRef]
63. Hodge, K.; Lonsdale, C. Prosocial and antisocial behavior in sport: The role of coaching style, autonomous

vs. controlled motivation, and moral disengagement. J. Sport Exerc. Psychol. 2011, 33, 527–547. [CrossRef]
[PubMed]

64. Brown, M.E.; Treviño, L.K. Ethical leadership: A review and future directions. Leadersh. Q. 2006, 17, 595–616.
[CrossRef]

65. Brown, M.E.; Trevino, L.K. Socialized charismatic leadership, values congruence, and deviance in work
groups. J. Appl. Psychol. 2006, 91, 954–962. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

66. Kim, S.O.; Kim, J.W.; Hwang, J. The relationship among stress, self-esteem, aggression and sociality of the
school and club soccer athletes. Korean J. Sport Psychol. 2007, 18, 103–117.

67. Carron, A.V.; Brawley, L.R. Cohesion: Conceptual and measurement issues. Small Group Res. 2012, 43,
726–743. [CrossRef]

68. Paradis, K.F.; Carron, A.V.; Martin, L.J. Athlete perceptions of intra-group conflict in sport teams. Sport Exerc.
Psychol. Rev. 2014, 10, 4–18.

69. Martin, L.J.; Paradis, K.F.; Eys, M.A.; Evans, B. Cohesion in sport: New directions for practitioners. J. Sport
Psychol. Action 2013, 4, 14–25. [CrossRef]

70. Onağ, Z.; Tepeci, M. Team effectiveness in sport teams: The effects of team cohesion, intra team communication
and team norms on team member satisfaction and intent to remain. Procedia-Soc. Behav. Sci. 2014, 150,
420–428. [CrossRef]

71. Yang, J. Thriving Organizational Sustainability through Innovation: Incivility Climate and Teamwork.
Sustainability 2016, 8, 860. [CrossRef]

72. Choi, H.H.; Cho, S.K.; Kim, Y.S. Validation of the communication scale in team sports. Korea Soc. Wellness
2018, 13, 179–191. [CrossRef]

73. Sullivan, P.J.; Short, S. Further operationalization of intra-team communication in sport: An updated version
of the scale of effective communication in team sports (SECTS-2). J. Appl. Soc. Psychol. 2011, 41, 471–487.
[CrossRef]

74. Kim, K.H.; Park, J.G. Structural validation of the Korean version of coach-athlete relationship questionnaire
(KrCART-Q). Korean J. Phys. Educ. 2008, 47, 219–233.

75. Yoo, J.; Lim, S.W. A study on the development and validation test of the collective efficacy questionnaire for
soccer. Korean J. Sport Psychol. 2009, 20, 17–31.

76. Short, S.E.; Sullivan, P.; Feltz, D.L. Development and preliminary validation of the collective efficacy
questionnaire for sports. Meas. Phys. Educ. Exerc. Sci. 2005, 9, 181–202. [CrossRef]

77. Anderson, J.C.; Gerbing, D.W. Structural equation modeling in practice: A review and recommended
two-step approach. Psychol. Bull. 1988, 103, 411–423. [CrossRef]

78. Riggs, M.L.; Knight, P.A. The impact of perceived group success-failure on motivational beliefs and attitudes:
A causal model. J. Appl. Psychol. 1994, 79, 755–766. [CrossRef]

79. Braun, S.; Peus, C.; Weisweiler, S.; Frey, D. Transformational leadership, job satisfaction, and team performance:
A multilevel mediation model of trust. Leadersh. Q. 2013, 24, 270–283. [CrossRef]

Sustainability 2019, 11, 5650 14 of 14

80. Zoogah, D.B.; Noe, R.A.; Shenkar, O. Shared mental model, team communication and collective self-efficacy:
An investigation of strategic alliance team effectiveness. Int. J. Strateg. Bus. Alliances 2015, 4, 244–270.
[CrossRef]

81. Choi, H.H.; Cho, S.K. The mediating role of the coach-athlete relationship in relationships between perceived
passion and burnout in adolescent athletes. Korean J. Sport Psychol. 2014, 25, 111–125.

82. Lee, Y.; Lim, S. Effects of Sports Activity on Sustainable Social Environment and Juvenile Aggression.
Sustainability 2019, 11, 2279. [CrossRef]

83. Vargas-Tonsing, T.M.; Warners, A.L.; Feltz, D.L. The predictability of coaching efficacy on team efficacy and
player efficacy in volleyball. J. Sport Behav. 2003, 26, 396–407.

© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access
article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution
(CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

© 2019. This work is licensed under
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ (the “License”). Notwithstanding
the ProQuest Terms and Conditions, you may use this content in accordance

with the terms of the License.

  • Introduction and Literature Review
  • Materials and Methods
    • Participants
    • Measures
    • Procedures and Research Design
    • Statistical Analysis
  • Results
    • Descriptive Statistics
    • Measurement Model
    • Structural Model
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • References

International Journal of

Environmental Research

and Public Health

Article

The Relationship between Coaching Behavior
and Athlete Burnout: Mediating Effects of
Communication and the Coach– Athlete Relationship

Hunhyuk Choi 1, Yunduk Jeong 2 and Suk-Kyu Kim 3,*
1 Department of Physical Education, College of Education, Kangwon National University,

1 Kanwondaehak-gil, Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do 24341, Korea; [email protected]
2 College of General Education, Kookmin University, 77, Jeongneung-ro, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul 02707, Korea;

[email protected]
3 Department of Sport Science, College of Humanities, Dongguk University Gyeongju, 123 Dongdae-ro,

Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do 38066, Korea
* Correspondence: [email protected]; Tel.: +82-54-770-2195

Received: 7 September 2020; Accepted: 16 November 2020; Published: 20 November 2020 �����������������

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships between perceived
coaching behavior (autonomy-supportive and controlling), communication, coach–athlete relationship,
and athlete burnout. The study participants comprised 347 Korean active collegiate athletes from
10 sports. The results of the final model indicated that autonomy-supportive coaching was positively
related to communication, whereas controlling coaching was negatively related to communication.
Communication was positively related to coach–athlete relationship and was negatively related to
athlete burnout. Autonomy-supportive coaching was significantly related to both the coach–athlete
relationship (positively) and athlete burnout (negatively), whereas controlling coaching was only
related to athlete burnout (positively). Coach–athlete relationship was negatively related to athlete
burnout. Significant indirect effects were observed. The bootstrapping results indicated that the
relationship between autonomy-supportive and athlete burnout was mediated by team communication
and the coach–athlete relationship. The study findings enhance our current understanding of the
relationships between perceived coaching behavior and athlete burnout and shed light on the
important roles of team communication and the coach–athlete relationship in the relationship.

Keywords: coaching behavior; autonomy-support; controlling; communication; coach–athlete relationship;
burnout

1. Introduction

Athletes can experience severe or excessive stress in a sports environment. In recognition of the
importance of athlete burnout in sports situations, [1] carried out a specific reconceptualization of
burnout and developed the Athlete Burnout Questionnaire (ABQ) to measure three dimensions of
burnout in sports situations: emotional and physical exhaustion, sport devaluation, and a reduced sense
of accomplishment. The development of the ABQ has contributed significantly to the development
of research on burnout among athletes. Conflicts between coaches and athletes and between team
members or colleagues may be manifested as symptoms, such as poor athletic performance, dropout [2],
and athlete burnout [1,3]. In particular, the levels of control and autonomy support in coaching behaviors
have also been studied from a motivational perspective to predict athlete burnout through psychological
needs and motivational regulations [4]. Davis et al. [5] emphasized the important role social factors
play in preventing athlete burnout, and Quested and Duda [6] reported that athletes are likely to

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 8618; doi:10.3390/ijerph17228618 www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 8618 2 of 17

experience higher levels of burnout if coaches show strict or controlling coaching behaviors or do not
provide autonomy support.

One of the main reasons why communication is attracting attention in sports is that athletes’
perception of the communication methods of their coaches affects the atmosphere of practice and
training, participation, and athletic performance. Communication is a potential mechanism through
which the quality of the coach–athlete relationship may affect interpersonal relationships. Gilbert [7]
stated that communication is an effective coaching strategy for building and maintaining coach–athlete
relationships. In particular, Carron and Hausenblas [8] argued that effective communication within
the team is essential for developing and maintaining the team structure. Furthermore, Joweet and
Wylleman [9] emphasized the importance of communication between the coach and athletes in sports
environments to prevent athlete burnout.

Overall, as increasing attention has been paid to reducing or preventing athlete burnout in various
sports (individual and team sports), research has attempted to identify the factors affecting burnout.
As mentioned above, coaching behaviors and coach–athlete relationships have a positive effect on the
reduction or prevention of athlete burnout. On the other hand, there are no reports on the mediating
effects of communication and coach–athlete relationship on the relationship between coaching behavior
and athlete burnout. Therefore, this study examined the mediating effects of communication and
coach–athlete relationship on the relationship between coaching behavior and athlete burnout.

2. Literature Review

2.1. Athlete Burnout

Conflict between a coach and athlete or between teammates can manifest as a decrease in athletic
performance, dropping out [2], or symptoms of burnout [1,3]. According to Smith [10], there are
various reasons why athletes terminate their athletic careers, but burnout is one of the main causes.
So far, a number of studies have been conducted from the perspective of individual characteristics
and socio-psychological factors in order to prevent athlete burnout. Athlete burnout has mainly
been explained from two aspects: the process toward, and the state of, burnout. In particular, in the
cognitive–affective stress model proposed by Smith [10], burnout is hypothesized as developing in
a four-stage process during which stress and burnout evolve in parallel. The four stages are the
situation, cognitive appraisal, physiological responses, and behavioral responses or a decrease in coping
ability, such as decreased performance. In addition, Silva [11] developed a conceptual model of the
training stress syndrome, focusing on physical and training factors while recognizing the importance
of psychological aspects. While these models applied the concept of athlete burnout mainly in terms of
stress, the investment model proposed by Schmidt and Stein [12] suggested that athletes are at risk of
burning out if they continue to participate in sports because they cannot give up careers in which they
have invested a great deal (e.g., time, emotion, friendship, and dealing with pressure from parents
and the coach), and because they have few alternatives [13]. On the other hand, in the commitment
model proposed by Raedeke [14], under the assumption that “not all athletes experiencing stress will
experience burnout,” limitations on the stress perspective were mentioned, and commitment was
presented as an important factor in the process of developing burnout. In other words, most of the
reasons for individuals’ involvement in an interpersonal relationship or an occupation were explained
from a commitment perspective [15].

Most of the studies on athlete burnout in Korea have attempted to explain the process of athlete
burnout based on a structure composed of three dimensions suggested by previous studies [1,4,6,16],
and they were mostly based on the cognitive–affective stress model. Recently, some studies on athlete
burnout were conducted from the perspective of motivation [17,18], and they reported that control
and the autonomy-supportive level in coaching behavior can predict athlete burnout, directly or
indirectly, through psychological needs and motivation regulation [4]. So far, some prior studies based
on a leadership perspective or on the self-determination theory have reported that coaches’ strict or

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 8618 3 of 17

controlling behaviors, failure to provide autonomy-supportive coaching [6], and a low level of social
support from coaches are associated with a higher risk for, or a higher level of, athlete burnout [1].

2.2. Coaching Style

Several previous studies based on the self-determination theory have consistently demonstrated
that autonomy-supportive coaching behaviors by leaders in the sports field (coaches, head coaches,
or managers) are more effective than behaviors that are controlling. The qualitative studies of athlete
burnout by Cresswell and Eklund [19] and Gustafsson et al. [20] emphasized the fact that dissatisfaction
in the relationship between coaches and athletes, such as conflicts, unsatisfactory communications, and a
lack of empathy in coaches are associated with athlete burnout. Negative social interactions especially,
such as unsolicited advice or intervention, not providing help when an athlete asks for it, and disregard
for individuals who are prominently observed in sports, were found to be strong predictors of athlete
burnout [21]. These study results demonstrated that coaches’ autonomy-supportive behaviors have a
more positive impact in the field of sports than coaching that is controlling. Consistent with the findings,
Cheon and Reeve [22] proved positive effects from the autonomy-supportive method by providing
teachers who participated in an autonomy-supportive teacher training program with education on
methods of communicating with students in a less controlling and more autonomy-supportive way.
The study also reported that a coach’s controlling behavior causes conflict between the coach and the
athletes, and negatively affects athletes’ motivation, achievement, and performance. These empirical
results provide evidence for the argument that coaches should pursue and utilize methods that
empathize with, and support, the athletes. Seong [23] claimed that coaches’ behaviors play a decisive
role in helping individuals or groups reach their goals. Although many prior studies on coaching
behavior have so far focused on identifying the characteristics and types of coaching behaviors and the
antecedent variables that affect coaching behaviors, it is now necessary to pay attention to studies that
elucidate the results or effects of coaching behavior.

2.3. Communication and Coach–Athlete Relationship

Coaches, including head coaches and managers, have a great influence on the behavior of athletes
as socially influential people or through smooth interactions with athletes. Interpersonal relationships
between coaches and athletes are a central part of the coaching process. This type of coaching is an
important element for high performance and plays a key role in ensuring athletes’ continued success.
Recently, as the importance of coaching in the field of sports has increased, many researchers have
paid a great deal of attention to coaching behavior, and related research has also been increasing.
In particular, Eccles and Tran [24] reported that effective communication within a team is an essential
element for the development and maintenance of team structure, and Joweet and Wylleman [9]
emphasized the importance in a sport environment of communication between coaches and their
athletes in order to proactively prevent athlete burnout. Jung, Lim and Choi [25] reported that
cooperative relationships with leaders and teammates in sport situations have a positive effect on team
performance, but a disagreement among team members has a negative impact on both individual
and team performance [26]. In addition, one of the most important reasons why communication is
receiving increased attention as an important factor in the field of sports is that the atmosphere of
practice and training, participation, and performance are affected by how athletes perceive the coach’s
method of communication. According to Bippus, Kearney, Plax, and Brooks [27], athletes who engage
in mutual communication with their coaches in other situations as well as during practice, training,
and sports events are more likely to consider their coaches trustworthy and reliable, because they
perceive coaches as genuine or accessible. In addition, it has been reported that if coaches respond
positively to athletes’ opinions and behaviors, it increases cognitive learning effects, and as a result,
communication with coaches is more actively utilized [28–30]. On the other hand, Loughead and
Carron [31] stated that unidirectional communication from a coach’s unilateral direction and through
coercion is less efficient than bidirectional communication in the relationship between coaches and

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 8618 4 of 17

athletes, and it has a negative impact, especially on athletic performance. These previous studies
demonstrated that if athletes maintain a positive relationship and communicate effectively with their
coaches, it can lead to effective results from various aspects.

As described above, if athletes are given autonomy, which allows them to think freely in their
interactions with the coach, and if the coach listens attentively to them, makes a positive impression as
a trustworthy person, and adjusts more flexibly to communications with athletes [32], it will not only
help to maintain a good relationship between athletes and their coaches but also reduce or prevent
athlete burnout. Previous studies [33,34] found that if smooth communications between the leader
and athletes is possible, athletes are more likely to strive to achieve their goals, and they found that
open and free communication between athletes and their coaches in this process is associated with a
lower level of athlete burnout. Based on the above findings, socio-psychological variables are expected
to play some role in reducing or preventing athlete burnout. Therefore, this study investigates whether
socio-psychological variables have a direct positive effect on preventing or reducing athlete burnout,
and it looks at what roles communication and the coach–athlete relationship play in the relationship
between coaching behavior and burnout.

If positive roles from communication and the coach–athlete relationship are confirmed in this
study, research on the importance of interpersonal aspects can be further intensified. In addition, it is
expected that the results of this study can be used as positive data for the development of education
programs for sport leaders, along with maintenance strategies for the improvement of interpersonal
relationships and the formation of positive coach–athlete relationships through positive roles of
postulated mediator variables.

2.4. Relationship among Coaching Behavior, Communication, and Coach–Athlete Relationship and
Athlete Burnout

The purpose of this study is to identify the relationship among coaching behavior
(autonomy-support coaching and controlling coaching), communication, and coach–athlete relationship
and athlete burnout. First, previous studies [21,22] indicated the autonomy-support coaching is more
effective to reduce the athlete burnout than controlling coaching. In addition, autonomy-support
coaching has been identified as positively affecting communication and social relationship [25,35].
Second, prior studies found [15,36,37] that communication has a positive effect on athlete burnout.
Communication has also been identified as positively affecting on coach–athlete relationship [24,27–31].
Third, previous studies [19–21,25] found that coach–athlete relationship is inversely related to athlete
burnout. Fourth, prior studies [19–22,24,25,27–34] suggested the mediating effect of communication
and coach–athlete relationship between coaching behavior and athlete burnout. Based on these prior
findings, we propose the following hypotheses:

Hypothesis 1. Autonomy-support coaching will have a positive effect on athlete burnout.

Hypothesis 2. Autonomy-support coaching will have a positive effect on communication.

Hypothesis 3. Autonomy-support coaching will have a positive effect on coach–athlete relationship.

Hypothesis 4. Controlling coaching will have a negative effect on athlete burnout.

Hypothesis 5. Controlling coaching will have a negative effect on communication.

Hypothesis 6. Controlling coaching will have a negative effect on coach–athlete relationship.

Hypothesis 7. Communication will have a positive effect on athlete burnout.

Hypothesis 8. Communication will have a positive effect on coach–athlete relationship.

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 8618 5 of 17

Hypothesis 9. Coach–athlete relation will have a positive effect on athlete burnout.

Hypothesis 10. Autonomy-supportive coaching will have an indirect effect on coach–athlete relationship
mediated by communication.

Hypothesis 11. Autonomy-supportive coaching will have an indirect effect on athlete burnout mediated by
communication and coach–athlete relationship.

Hypothesis 12. Controlling coaching will have an indirect effect on coach–athlete relationship mediated
by communication.

Hypothesis 13. Controlling coaching will have an indirect effect on athlete burnout mediated by communication
and coach–athlete relationship.

3. Methods

3.1. Participants

This study used convenience sampling to select participants. A total of 400 surveys were distributed
to 5 different colleges in Kangwon, South Korea. Among the collected data, questionnaires with insincere
and incomplete responses (e.g., biased responses, missing data, repeated patterns, etc.) were excluded
from the analysis, and only valid samples (347 in total) were used. Of the participants, 87.0% were male,
13.0% were female, mean age was 21.6. Table 1 presents the participants’ demographic information.

Table 1. Breakdown of research participants.

Characteristics Category n %

Sex
Male 302 87.0%

Female 45 13.0%

Type of Sports

Golf 19 5.5%
Basketball 79 22.7%
Volleyball 22 6.4%

SSireum (Korean
traditional wrestling) 8 2.4%

Baseball 82 23.6%
Soccer 74 21.3%

Canoe (kayak) 6 1.7%
Table tennis 6 1.7%
Taekwondo 8 2.4%

Handball 43 12.4%

National team experience Yes 85 24.5%
No 262 75.5%

Age

19–20 years 83 23.9%
21 years 93 26.8%
22 years 81 23.3%
23 years 67 19.3%

24–29 years 23 6.7%
Mean(age) 21.63 (SD = 1.43)

Exercise experience

1–5 years 25 7.2%
6–10 years 143 62.5%

11–13 years 94 27.1%
14 years or more 11 3.2%

Mean (Exercise experience) 9.45 (SD = 2.42)

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 8618 6 of 17

3.2. Procedure

Before conducting the survey, the researcher completed an online educational course on the
Bioethics and Safety Act conducted by the IRB of the institution to which the researcher belongs, taking
into consideration research ethics. Data collection was conducted after requesting the cooperation
of participants and by obtaining consent from the person in charge (coach, head coach, or manager)
of the college sports team by sending information about the contents and procedure of the study by
e-mail in order to fully explain the purpose.

The specific methods and procedures for data collection were as follows. First, in order to collect
research data, the researcher and two assistants personally visited each university to explain the
study’s purpose, the method for completing the questionnaire, and any precautions for the athletes.
Second, informed consent was obtained from participants, who had to voluntarily agree to participate;
to minimize insincere responses and to avoid missing data, participants were assured that the results
would only be used as basic data for this study, and not for other purposes. Third, participants were
informed that all individual characteristics and questionnaire data about the participants would be
anonymized to ensure confidentiality, and they were provided with a sufficient explanation about
the contents of the information provided so they could clearly understand the procedure during the
survey process. It took about 10 min for each participant to complete the questionnaire, which was
collected immediately after being completed.

3.3. Instruments

The survey consisted of six sections, including autonomy-supportive behavior, controlling
behavior, communication, coach–athlete relationship, athlete burnout, and demographic information.
To measure the perceived autonomy-supportive coaching behavior among college athletes, a Korean
version of the Sport Climate Questionnaire (SCQ) developed by Deci [38] was used. This instrument
is a scale to assess perceived autonomy support, and the Korean version of the SCQ was validated
by Kim and Park [39]. It is a six-item short-form questionnaire and includes statements such as
“the coach gives me choices and opportunities” and “the coach generally recognizes me as an athlete.”
Each respondent is asked to rate each item on a seven-point Likert scale (1 point = Strongly disagree,
7 points = Strongly agree). Overall, higher scores indicate higher levels of autonomy-supportive
coaching behavior.

To measure controlling behavior by a coach, a Korean version of the Controlling Coach Behaviors
Scale (CCBS) developed by Bartholomw et al. [40] was developed and validated by Song and Cheon [38].
The tool consists of 15 items: four on controlling use of rewards, four on negative conditional regard,
four on intimidation, and three items on excessive personal control. The 15 items include statements
such as “the coach motivates me by giving me a reward when I perform well in sport”, “the coach
gives me less recognition if I disappoint him/her”, and “the coach tries to interfere with my privacy
outside sport.” Respondents rate each item on a five-point Likert scale (1 point = Strongly disagree,
5 points = Strongly agree).

To measure communication, a Korean version of the Scale for Effective Communication in Team
Sports-2 (SECTS-2) developed by Sullivan and Short [39] was used. The Korean version was validated
by Choi, Cho, and Kim [40] and assesses the communication among Korean team-sport athletes.
This scale emphasizes the bi-directional nature of communication between coaches and athletes with
the aim of contributing to the relational dimension by narrowing the gaps between coaches and athletes,
between colleagues, and between athletes and parents. The tool consists of 15 items related to four
factors that measure internal aspects of individuals, including relationships between individuals as
well as verbal and non-verbal communication. Specifically, the 15 items include four on acceptance,
three on distinctiveness, four on positive conflict, and four on negative conflict. Respondents rated
each item on a seven-point Likert scale (1 point = Strongly disagree, 7 points = Strongly agree).

To assess coach–athlete relationships, a Korean version of the Coach–Athlete Relationship
Questionnaire (CART-Q) developed by Jowett and Ntoumanis [41] was used. KrCART-Q was validated

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 8618 7 of 17

among Korean athletes and coaches by Kim and Park [42]. This instrument consists of 11 items: four
on closeness, three on commitment, and four items on complementarity. The items include statements
such as “I like our coach” and “I have a close relationship with the coach, and I feel comfortable when
receiving coaching from our coach.” Respondents were required to rate each item of the questionnaire
on a seven-point Likert scale (1 point = Strongly disagree, 7 points = Strongly agree). Higher average
scores are considered indicative of higher scores for each sub-factor.

The level of athlete burnout was assessed using a Korean version of the Athlete Burnout
Questionnaire (ABQ) developed by Raedeke and Smith [1]. The Korean version was developed and
validated by Choi, Cho, and Eklund [3] to assess burnout in Korean athletes. The ABQ consists of
15 items: five on physical and emotional exhaustion, five on reduced sense of accomplishment, and five
on sport devaluation. This instrument is a questionnaire with psychological characteristics and is most
widely used to measure the burnout syndrome in groups of athletes. Respondents are required to rate
each item on a five-point Likert scale (1 point = Never, 5 points = Always). According to Raedeke and
Smith [1], three points or higher indicates a relatively high level of athlete burnout.

3.4. Data Analysis

This study used two-step approach according to Anderson and Gerbing [43]. They [43] recommended
validation of the measurement model before verification of the structural model. Even if the model’s
overall fit is found acceptable, it is not always possible to claim that the measurement model or the
structural model is supported. The measurement model and structural model should be evaluated
separately. Therefore, for this study, the construct validity of the measurement model was tested.
In setting the measurement model, coaching behavior that is autonomy-supportive coaching and
controlling coaching were set as independent variables; communication and coach–athlete relationship
were set as mediator variables, and athlete burnout was the dependent variable. The maximum
likelihood (ML) method was applied to estimate the measurement model. Regarding the model fit
criteria, χ2, CFI, TLI, RMSEA, and SRMR index values recommended by Hair, Black, Babin, Anderson,
and Tatham [44] were selected as the criteria for model fit indexes. For TLI and CFI, values of 0.90
or greater were considered acceptable, and for RMSEA and SRMR, values of 0.08 or lower were
deemed acceptable [45]. The mode fit criteria were also applied to verification of the structural model.
In addition, in this study, the bootstrap method was applied to verify the communication roles and the
coach–athlete relationship with regard to the relationship between the independent variable and the
dependent variable.

Descriptive statistics, univariate skewness, univariate kurtosis, and correlations were calculated
using the Statistical Package of the Social Sciences (SPSS 24.0) (IBM, New York, NY, USA). The cut-off
criteria of the univariate normality assumption were absolute values of 2 for skewness and 7 for
kurtosis. Additionally, AMOS 22.0 was used to conduct the structural equation modeling (SEM) to
examine the full structural model.

The validity and reliability of the measurement tools were evaluated through confirmatory factor
analysis. The ML method was the model estimation method to investigate whether the items of each
scale in this study responded appropriately to the participants. As a result of verifying the construct
validity of autonomy-supportive behavior, controlling behavior, communication, the coach–athlete
relationship, and athlete burnout, some items were deleted because they did not show unidimensionality.
Deleted were one item on positive conflict and two items on reduced sense of accomplishment. After
the items were deleted, the model fit of each measurement tool was found to be acceptable.

Specifically, the standardized coefficient for each item about autonomy-supportive coaching
behavior was 0.89–0.91, and the internal consistency (Cronbach’s α) was 0.93. The model fit indexes
were found to be acceptable levels, with χ2 = 18.49, df = 7, TLI = 0.98, CFI = 0.99, RMSEA = 0.06,
and SRMR = 0.01. The standardized coefficient for each sub-factor item for controlling behavior was
0.60–0.95, and the internal consistency values were 0.90 for controlling use of rewards, 0.89 for negative
conditional regard, 0.90 for threatening and intimation, and 0.857 for excessive personal control.

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 8618 8 of 17

The model fit was relatively acceptable, with χ2 = 294.43, df = 81, TLI = 0.93, CFI = 0.94, RMSEA = 0.08,
and SRMR = 0.06. On the other hand, the standardized coefficient for each communication sub-factor
item was 0.50–0.79, and the values of internal consistency reliability were 0.79 for acceptance, 0.63 for
distinctiveness, 0.65 for negative conflict, and 0.70 for positive conflict. The model fit indexes were at
acceptable levels, with χ2 = 173.22, df = 66, TLI = 0.90, CFI = 0.93, RMSEA = 0.06, and SRMR = 0.06.
In addition, the standardized coefficient of each sub-factor item of the coach–athlete relationship
was 0.87–0.95, and the values for internal consistency reliability were 0.95 for closeness, 0.91 for
commitment, and 0.94 for complementarity. The model fit was acceptable, with χ2 = 119.57, df = 36,
TLI = 0.97, CFI = 0.98, RMSEA = 0.08, and SRMR = 0.02.

In addition, the standardized coefficient for each sub-factor item for athlete burnout was
0.64–0.86, and the internal consistency values were 0.81 for reduced sense of accomplishment,
0.88 for emotional/physical exhaustion, and 0.89 for sport devaluation. The model fit was acceptable,
with χ2 = 189.71, df = 61, TLI = 0.93, CFI = 0.94, RMSEA = 0.07, and SRMR = 0.04. Therefore, the validity
and reliability of the scales used in this study were verified.

4. Results

4.1. Descriptive Statistics and Analysis of Correlations between Subfactors

Descriptive statistics, such as the mean and standard deviation, of the final data selected through
evaluation of the measurement model were calculated (Table 2). Kline [46] suggested that if the value of
skewness does not exceed an absolute value of 3, and if the value of kurtosis does not exceed an absolute
value of 7, a normal distribution of data can be assumed. Based on the criteria, the assumption of
normality in the data was satisfied, because the skewness and kurtosis values of each factor were within
acceptable ranges for a normal distribution of data based on the reference values (skewness ≥ 0.10,
kurtosis ≥ 0.20). In addition, correlation estimation showed that autonomy-supportive coaching was
negatively correlated with controlling coaching (r = −0.37), while it was positively associated with
communication (r = 0.53) and the coach–athlete relationship (r = 0.74). However, it was negatively
correlated with athlete burnout (r = −0.60). On the other hand, controlling coaching was negatively
correlated with communication (r = −0.30) and the coach–athlete relationship (r = −0.36) but was
positively correlated with athlete burnout (r = 0.58). Communication had a positive correlation with the
coach–athlete relationship (r = 0.55) but showed a negative correlation with athlete burnout (r = −0.48),
and the coach–athlete relationship showed a negative correlation with athlete burnout (r = −0.60).
With respect to the threshold at which correlation coefficients indicate statistical significance, Kline [47]
suggested a threshold of 0.85.

Table 2. Descriptive statistics and correlations of scale composite scores.

Scale M (SD) SK KU 1 2 3 4 5

1. Autonomy-support coaching 5.18(1.18) −0.21 −0.29 1

2. Controlling coaching 3.60(0.86) 0.21 0.64 −0.37 * 1

3. Communication 4.43(0.60) −0.16 −0.13 0.53 * −0.30 * 1

4. Coach–athlete relationship 5.29(1.09) −0.21 −0.16 0.74 * −0.36 * 0.55 * 1

5. Athlete burnout 2.52(0.67) −0.09 −0.23 −0.60 * 0.58 * −0.48 * −0.60 * 1

* p < 0.05, M = mean, SD = standard deviation, SK = skewness, KU = kurtosis.

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 8618 9 of 17

4.2. Evaluation of the Measurement Model

For the measurement model (comprising five latent variables and 20 observed variables) postulated
in this study, evaluations of convergent validity and discriminant validity were made (Table 3). First,
in setting the measurement model, the autonomy-supportive coaching factor was posited to explain
the measurement model with a latent variable. However, for controlling coaching, for communication,
for the coach–athlete relationship, and for athlete burnout factors, item parceling was conducted that
focused on the sub-factors presented in previous studies. This was due to the fact that if there are
many measurement items, the complexity of the model increases, which can result in problems from
the sample size, the model fit, and from significance tests for parametric estimation. Therefore, item
parceling was carried out based on the argument by Kline [47] that if all sub-factors are set as latent
variables, parsimony of the model may be violated.

Table 3. Factor loading, Composite reliabilities, AVE, and Cronbach’s alpha in the Measurement model.

Latent Variable Observed Variable SC CR AVE α

Autonomy-support
coaching (ASC)

ASC1 0.85

0.93 0.69 0.95

ASC2 0.90
ASC3 0.90
ASC4 0.88
ASC5 0.90
ASC6 0.88

Controlling coaching (CC)

Controlling use of reward 0.63

0.80 0.51 0.86
Negative conditional regard 0.72

Intimidation 0.88
Excessive personal control 0.84

Communication (COMM)

Acceptance 0.96

0.79 0.50 0.67
Distinctiveness 0.55

Negative conflict 0.60
Positive conflict 0.81

Coach–athlete relationship
(CAR)

Commitment 0.89
0.93 0.82 0.94Complementarity 0.95

Closeness 0.93

Athlete burnout (AB)

Reduced sense of
accomplishment 0.78

0.87 0.69 0.80Emotional and physical
exhaustion 0.68

Sport devaluation 0.81

SC = standardizes coefficients, CR = construct reliability, AVE = average variance extracted, α = Cronbach’s alpha.

This study did not use the method of deleting items in order to improve the goodness of fit in the
measurement model but considered a method of using a modification index [48], and thus, correlations
between error terms were assumed: two correlations within the latent variable, autonomy-supportive
coaching (1↔2, 5↔6), one correlation within controlling coaching (threatening/intimidation↔ excessive
personal control), and one correlation within communication (distinctiveness ↔ positive conflict).
As a result, overall, the standardized factor loading (0.6 or higher, but 0.55 for distinctiveness) and
the model fit were found to be acceptable (χ2 = 527.13, df = 156, p < 0.000, TLI = 0.91, CFI = 0.92,
and RMSEA = 0.08).

Tables 2 and 3 show the construct reliability (CR) and average variance extracted (AVE) of each
latent variable, the magnitude and direction of each of the correlation coefficients between variables
related to the constructs, and the square of each correlation coefficient. The CR and AVE of each
latent variable were calculated with the equation proposed by Hair et al. [41]. The CR values ranged
from 0.79 to 0.93, exceeding the reference value (≥0.70), and the AVE values ranged from 0.50 to 0.82,
also exceeding the reference value (≥0.50), showing that there was no problem with convergent validity.

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 8618 10 of 17

The assessment of discriminant validity also showed that there was no problem with discriminant
validity (AVE > ϕ2, 95% confidence interval [ϕ2 ± 2 × standard error] , 1). Therefore, it can be said
that the overall validity of the measurement model in this study was established.

Tables 4 and 5 and Figure 1 show the results of analyzing the direct and indirect effects of the
structural model. To determine whether to accept or reject the postulated hypotheses statistically,
a statistical model to be verified by the structural model was constructed, and the structural model
was verified by the maximum likelihood method according to the results from setting the statistical
model. As a result of the evaluation of model fit, model fit indexes were found to be at acceptable
levels (χ2 = 559.85, df = 156, TLI = 0.90, CFI = 0.92, and RMSEA = 0.08). Therefore, the statistical model
was determined to be suitable, because the criteria for model fit indexes were satisfied overall.

Table 4. Path coefficients between Latent Variables.

Path b

Hypothesis 1: Autonomy-supportive coaching→ athlete burnout −0.21 *
Hypothesis 2: Autonomy-supportive coaching→ communication 0.48 *

Hypothesis 3: Autonomy-supportive coaching→ coach–athlete relationship 0.75 *
Hypothesis 4: Controlling coaching→ athlete burnout 0.38 *
Hypothesis 5: Controlling coaching→ communication −0.12 *

Hypothesis 6: Controlling coaching→ coach–athlete relationship −0.03
Hypothesis 7: Communication→ athlete burnout −0.13 *

Hypothesis 8: Communication→ coach–athlete relationship 0.14 *
Hypothesis 9: Coach–athlete relationship→ athlete burnout −0.21 *

* p < 0.05, b = standardized regression weight.

Table 5. Estimates of mediation effect.

Path b
95% CI

LL UL

Hypothesis 10: Autonomy-supportive coaching→ communication
→ coach–athlete relationship 0.068 * 0.023 0.142

Hypothesis 11: Autonomy-supportive coaching→ communication
→ coach–athlete relationship→ athlete burnout −0.126 * −0.233 −0.045

Hypothesis 12: Controlling coaching→ communication
→ coach–athlete relationship −0.015 * −0.049 −0.001

Hypothesis 13: Controlling coaching→ communication
→ coach–athlete relationship→ athlete burnout 0.012 0.000 0.031

* p < 0.05, b = standardized regression weight, LL = lower limit, UL = upper limit, and CI = Confidence Interval.

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, x 10 of 17

0.79 to 0.93, exceeding the reference value (≥0.70), and the AVE values ranged from 0.50 to 0.82, also
exceeding the reference value (≥0.50), showing that there was no problem with convergent validity.

The assessment of discriminant validity also showed that there was no problem with
discriminant validity (AVE > φ2, 95% confidence interval [φ2 ± 2 × standard error] ≠ 1). Therefore, it
can be said that the overall validity of the measurement model in this study was established.

Tables 4 and 5 and Figure 1 show the results of analyzing the direct and indirect effects of the
structural model. To determine whether to accept or reject the postulated hypotheses statistically, a
statistical model to be verified by the structural model was constructed, and the structural model was
verified by the maximum likelihood method according to the results from setting the statistical
model. As a result of the evaluation of model fit, model fit indexes were found to be at acceptable
levels (χ2 = 559.85, df = 156, TLI = 0.90, CFI = 0.92, and RMSEA = 0.08). Therefore, the statistical model
was determined to be suitable, because the criteria for model fit indexes were satisfied overall.

Figure 1. Proposed structural model. Solid lines indicate significant paths at p < 0.05. Dotted lines
indicate insignificant paths. Values shown next to the solid lines are standardized regression
coefficients.

Table 4. Path coefficients between Latent Variables.

Path b
Hypothesis 1: Autonomy-supportive coaching → athlete burnout −0.21 *

Hypothesis 2: Autonomy-supportive coaching → communication 0.48 *

Hypothesis 3: Autonomy-supportive coaching → coach–athlete relationship 0.75 *

Hypothesis 4: Controlling coaching → athlete burnout 0.38 *

Hypothesis 5: Controlling coaching → communication −0.12 *

Hypothesis 6: Controlling coaching → coach–athlete relationship −0.03

Hypothesis 7: Communication → athlete burnout −0.13 *

Hypothesis 8: Communication → coach–athlete relationship 0.14 *

Hypothesis 9: Coach–athlete relationship → athlete burnout −0.21 *
* p < 0.05, b = standardized regression weight.

As shown in Table 4, the results of analyzing the relationship of each path are summarized as
follows. First, autonomy-supportive coaching was found to have a significant positive effect on
communication (γ = 0.48, p < 0.05). Second, controlling coaching was found to have a significant

Figure 1. Proposed structural model. Solid lines indicate significant paths at p < 0.05. Dotted lines
indicate insignificant paths. Values shown next to the solid lines are standardized regression coefficients.

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 8618 11 of 17

As shown in Table 4, the results of analyzing the relationship of each path are summarized
as follows. First, autonomy-supportive coaching was found to have a significant positive effect on
communication (γ = 0.48, p < 0.05). Second, controlling coaching was found to have a significant
negative effect on communication (γ = −0.12, p < 0.05). Third, communication was shown to
have a significant positive effect on the coach–athlete relationship (γ = 0.14, p < 0.05). Fourth,
autonomy-supportive coaching was found to have a significant positive effect on the coach–athlete
relationship (γ = 0.75, p < 0.05). Fifth, controlling coaching was shown to have no significant effect
on the coach–athlete relationship (γ = −0.03, p > 0.05). Sixth, communication was found to have
a significant negative impact on athlete burnout (γ = −0.13, p < 0.05). Seventh, the coach–athlete
relationship was found to have a significant negative effect on athlete burnout (γ = −0.21, p < 0.05).
Eighth, autonomy-supportive coaching was found to have a significant negative effect on athlete
burnout (γ = −0.21, p < 0.05). Finally, controlling coaching was found to have a significant positive
effect on athlete burnout (γ = 0.380, p < 0.05).

In summary, autonomy-supportive coaching behavior had a direct positive effect on
communication and the coach–athlete relationship, but it had a direct negative impact on athlete
burnout. Next, communication had a direct positive effect on the coach–athlete relationship, but it
had a direct negative effect on athlete burnout. As described above, results of the analysis to verify
the statistical significance of each path indicated that autonomy-supportive coaching has an indirect
effect on athlete burnout through communication and the coach–athlete relationship. Therefore,
it is necessary to statistically verify the mediating effects of communication and the coach–athlete
relationship on the relationship between autonomy-supportive coaching and athlete burnout [47].

The bootstrap method [49] was used to test the statistical significance of the indirect effects
(mediation effects) of communication and the coach–athlete relationship on the relationship between
autonomy-supportive coaching and athlete burnout. At this time, resampling was repeatedly conducted
5000 times, and statistical significance was assessed in the 95% bias-corrected confidence intervals
(Table 5). As a result, mediating effects in the relationships of autonomy-supportive coaching →
communication→ coach–athlete relationship→ athlete burnout (p < 0.05) were found to be statistically
significant, and thus, it was confirmed that there was a partial mediation effect.

5. Discussion

In the field of sports, coaches play a significant role, fulfilling the most important position for
the team as well as for the athletes. They also have a decisive effect on the overall aspects of athletes’
physical and psychological status and their performance levels [50]. In this regard, studies on the
coach–athlete relationship based on the perspective of interpersonal relationships [17,51] have also
suggested an efficient method for performance improvement by presenting strategies for the formation
of reciprocal relationships—that is, relationships between the coach and athlete or between athletes,
where people involved have favorable perceptions of each other. As a result, these studies reflect the
fact that the importance of communication is emphasized in the field of sports. Therefore, this study
investigated the mediation effects of communication and the coach–athlete relationship in terms of the
interpersonal relationship between coaching behavior and athlete burnout.

First, autonomy-supportive coaching was found to have a positive impact on communication,
but controlling coaching had a negative effect. For athletes participating in sports, the process
of motivating them is very important, because the process of motivation serves as a path of action
contributing to their future development, including athletic performance. Some studies have shown that
teaching methods that focus on supporting autonomous motivations in students, such as their interests,
needs, preferences, and personal goals, can strongly elicit students’ participatory behaviors [52–54].
These studies showed that autonomy-supportive coaching is required when coaches try to emphasize
to athletes the goals in sports or when they try to elicit voluntary participatory behaviors (training and
practice) from athletes. In addition, autonomy-supportive coaching can generate a positive relationship
between the coach and athlete, and in this process, efficient communication becomes very important.

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 8618 12 of 17

It is important for horizontal and bidirectional communication—not vertical communication—to
occur between the coach and the athlete. In such cases, training effects as well as the psychological
satisfaction of the athletes can be increased, and horizontal and bidirectional communication can
be further developed into a cooperative model in which coaches and athletes cooperate to form the
training environment or atmosphere and the training effects.

In the U.S., research on the usefulness of communication in sports has been actively conducted,
and communication interaction between coaches and athletes has been a major research topic [39,55,56].
Prior studies emphasized that coaches should create situations where athletes can accomplish their
goals and can perform their roles efficiently. Also suggested was that it is of vital importance for
coaches to not actively adhere to their positions, insist on their opinions or rights, or express their
opinions strongly, but rather, they should try to behave in a way that can be perceived as considerate
of the athletes. Therefore, above all, effective communication is required for interactions between the
coach and athlete, and it should be preceded by the coach’s autonomy-supportive coaching.

Next, in this study, results from analysis of the relationship between coaching behavior
and the coach–athlete relationship showed that autonomy-supportive coaching has a positive
impact on the coach–athlete relationship, whereas controlling coaching does not influence the
coach–athlete relationship. According to previous studies conducted from the self-determination
theory perspective [57–59], the effects of autonomy-supportive coaching and controlling coaching
are independent of each other. In particular, Laferniére et al. [59] reported that a coach’s
autonomy-supportive coaching had a positive impact on the coach–athlete relationship (β = 0.47),
whereas controlling coaching did not have any influence (β = −13). These results from
Laferniére et al. [59] support the findings of the present study. In addition, these study findings suggest
that research on various aspects of the coach–athlete relationships need to be continuously conducted
to improve interpersonal relationships in sport situations. A consistent opinion emerging from a
number of studies on coaches’ autonomy-supportive behavior is that autonomy-supportive behaviors
are more likely to generate a positive relationship with coaches, because they form positive emotions
in athletes. Autonomy-supportive behaviors have also been reported to contribute to building a more
positive relationship and a strong emotional bond between coaches and athletes from a future-oriented
point of view [60–62].

Considering that this study focuses on the coach–athlete relationship as described above, it is
important to point out that both coaches and athletes have their respective roles to accomplish. Athletes
often tend to expect the coach to lead them, give instructions to them, and make decisions for them.
This is because coaches are generally presumed by athletes to be authoritative, and this fact may
explain why controlling behavior is not associated with the coach–athlete relationship. In this regard,
controlling behavior from coaches can be perceived as showing that they do not try to respect, care
about, and understand athletes.

Therefore, in order to continuously provide useful information to athletes, there is a further
need to expand the research on coaches’ autonomy-supportive behavior and controlling behavior in
relation to qualitative relationships between coaches and athletes. It is believed that such research
can contribute to, and lead to, the development of strategies that can further improve the relationship
between the coach and athlete in the future.

On the other hand, investigation of the relationship between communication and the coach–athlete
relationship revealed that communication had a positive effect on the coach–athlete relationship.
This result showed that communication is an important interpersonal skill in sports and an important
means for the development of the coach–athlete relationship [63]. In this regard. Liu, Chua,
and Stahl [64] conceptualized the quality of communication in interpersonal relationships as a
multifaceted construct that involves cognitive, behavioral, and affective elements.

Jowett and Poczwardowski [65] suggested that communication takes an important position
in the coach–athlete relationship model and reported that quality and quantity in communications
have a positive effect on the coach–athlete relationship. In particular, since utilization of quality

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 8618 13 of 17

communication is related to maintaining a high-level coach–athlete relationship, coaches and their
athletes can share the same goals and definitions of success. Therefore, effective communication
between the coach and athlete can lead to positive interactions, which will improve the performance
of the athletes or increase performance satisfaction, while reducing the dropout rate or the level of
burnout. Currently, in many sports, when a coach or a head coach approaches athletes for guidance or
feedback to improve performance, the athletes frequently tend to avoid them and try not to make eye
contact. In such sport environments, effective and efficient communication is expected to contribute
greatly to increasing the effects of education, such as performance improvement and enhancing team
cohesiveness. Therefore, if the coach communicates with athletes based on this value system, athletes
will feel closer to the coach, and cognitive learning effects, affective learning effects, participation in
training and practice, and solidarity with colleagues are all expected to increase [66].

In addition, in this study, the mediation effects of communication and the coach–athlete relationship
in the relationship between coaching behavior and athlete burnout were examined. Statistical
analysis indicated that communication and the coach–athlete relationship have a partial and positive
mediation effect on the relationship between autonomy-supportive coaching behavior and athlete
burnout. Therefore, verification of the statistical significance of each mediation effect was conducted
using the bootstrap method of Shrout and Bolger [49]. As shown in Table 5, in the relationships
from autonomy-supportive coaching → communication → coach–athlete relationship → athlete
burnout (p < 0.05), the indirect effect of autonomy-supportive coaching on athlete burnout was found
to be statistically significant. These results suggest that autonomy-supportive coaching increases
communication with the athletes, and increased communication decreases athlete burnout by increasing
the quality of the coach–athlete relationship. Therefore, it is believed that it is of the utmost importance
to “keep the quality of interpersonal relationships by utilizing high-quality communication” in the
field of sports. In this regard, it should be noted that maintaining effective communications in other
situations, as well as training or competitions, has a positive effect on athletes’ evaluation of the
communication behaviors of the coach and their own behaviors [67].

Therefore, if coaches employ effective communication skills to empathize with athletes and
to meet their needs, rather than using communication to make a favorable impression on athletes,
the athletes are more likely to attempt to communicate with their coaches, not only during training
and competitions but also in other situations.

6. Conclusions

Recently, as approaches that have been applied to study the coach–athlete relationship have
changed over time, the methods used by researchers to conceptualize interpersonal relationships
have also changed. LaVoi [68] suggested the coach–athlete relationship is determined by each
individual’s authenticity, engagement, empowerment, and ability to deal with conflict. Considering
that interpersonal relationships in sports are typically unique relationships, including social
interdependence, in that they are typically intention-oriented and highly outcome-oriented, if athletes
can form positive relationships and interact with coaches using high-quality communication overall,
they are more likely to feel that their psychological needs have been met, which will lead to a decrease
in athlete burnout. Therefore, in future studies, it is necessary to verify whether the same effects
of coaching behavior can be obtained among middle school and high school student athletes or
professional athletes in order to reproduce the results of the present study. On the other hand, it is
also necessary to investigate whether coaches use autonomy-supportive strategies more often for
elite athletes or professional athletes or whether the role of coaching behavior is applied differently
according to gender (male/female).

In addition, it is believed that the coach’s point of view toward mastery goals will have a significant
effect on communication. A mastery goal refers to a goal to improve abilities, that is, an incremental
belief, and coaches who have incremental beliefs are expected to attach value to the learning process
itself; they show a tendency to continuously achieve goals, even when faced with difficulties, and tend

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 8618 14 of 17

to be interested in task maturity rather than others’ evaluations. Therefore, it is thought that the quality
of communication and relationships with athletes as well as the level of athlete burnout will vary
depending on the set of values pursued by the coach. It is expected that research on these issues
will provide positive data that can be utilized in constructing a leader training program, including
strategies for the improvement and maintenance of the relationships between leaders and athletes,
and for prevention of athlete burnout in the future.

Author Contributions: Conceptualization, H.C. and S.-K.K.; methodology, H.C. and S.-K.K.; formal analysis, H.C.
and S.-K.K.; data curation, H.C. and Y.J.; writing—original draft preparation, Y.J. and S.-K.K.; writing—review
and editing, Y.J. and H.C.; software, H.C.; validation, H.C. and S.-K.K.; visualization, S.-K.K.; resources, H.C. and
Y.J.; investigation, H.C. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

Funding: This research received no external funding.

Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

References

1. Raedeke, T.D.; Smith, A.L. Development and preliminary validation of an athlete burnout measure. J. Sport
Exerc. Psychol. 2001, 23, 281–306. [CrossRef]

2. Seong, C.H. Dropout Motives and it’s related variables in competitive sports among Korean youth athletes.
Kor. J. Sport Psychol. 2002, 13, 39–57.

3. Choi, H.H.; Cho, S.K.; Eklund, R.C. A comparative study of construct equivalence and latent means analysis
of athlete burnout questionnaire for adolescent athletes. Kor. Soc. Wellness 2017, 12, 433–445. [CrossRef]

4. Isoard-Gautheur, S.; Guillet-Descas, E.; Lemyre, P.N. A prospective study of the influence of perceived
coaching style on burnout propensity in high level young athletes: Using a self-determination
theory perspective. Sport Psychol. 2012, 26, 282–298. [CrossRef]

5. Davis, L.; Stenling, A.; Gustafsson, H.; Appleby, R.; Davis, P. Reducing the risk of athlete burnout: Psychosocial,
sociocultural, and individual considerations for coaches. Int. J. Sports Sci. Coach. 2019, 14, 444–452. [CrossRef]

6. Quested, E.; Duda, J.L. Antecedents of burnout among elite dancers: A longitudinal test of basic needs theory.
Psychol. Sport Exerc. 2011, 12, 159–167. [CrossRef]

7. Gilbert, W. Coaching Better Every Season: A Year-Round Process for Athlete Development and Program Success;
Human Kinetics: Champaign, IL, USA, 2017.

8. Carron, A.V.; Hausenblas, H.A. Group Dynamics in Sport, 2nd ed.; Fitness Information Technology:
Morgantown, WV, USA, 1988.

9. Jowett, S.; Wylleman, P. Interpersonal relationships in sport and exercise settings: Crossing the chasm.
Psychol. Sport Exerc. 2006, 2, 119–123. [CrossRef]

10. Smith, R.E. Toward a cognitive-affective model of athletic burnout. J. Sport Psychol. 1986, 8, 36–50. [CrossRef]
11. Silva, J.M. An analysis of the training stress syndrome in competitive athletics. J. Appl. Sport Psychol. 1990,

2, 5–20. [CrossRef]
12. Schmidt, G.W.; Stein, G.L. Sport commitment: A model integrating enjoyment, dropout, and burnout. J. Sport

Exerc. Psychol. 1991, 13, 254–265. [CrossRef]
13. Yoo, H.S. Overtraining and burnout in athletes. J. Coach. Dev. 2004, 6, 13–22.
14. Raedeke, T.D. Is athlete burnout more than stress? A commitment perspective. J. Sport Exerc. Psychol. 1997,

19, 396417. [CrossRef]
15. Kelley, H.H. Love and commitment. In Close Relationships; Kelley, H.H., Berscheid, E., Christensen, A.,

Harvey, J.H., Huston, T.L., Levinger, G., McClintock, E., Peplau, L.A., Peterson, D.R., Eds.; W.H. Freeman:
New York, NY, USA, 1983; pp. 265–311.

16. Raedeke, T.D.; Smith, A.L. The Athlete Burnout Questionnaire Test Manual; Fitness Information Technology:
Morgantown, WV, USA, 2009.

17. Choi, H.H.; Cho, S.K. The mediating role of the coach-athlete relationship in relationships between perceived
passion and burnout in adolescent athletes. Kor. J. Sport Psychol. 2014, 25, 111–125.

18. Mageau, C.A.; Vallerand, R.J. The coach-athlete relationship: A motivational model. J. Sports Sci. 2003,
21, 883–904. [CrossRef]

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 8618 15 of 17

19. Cresswell,S.L.; Eklund,R.C.Athleteburnout: Alongitudinalqualitativestudy.SportPsychol.2007,21, 1–20. [CrossRef]
20. Gustafsson, H.; Hassmén, P.; Kenttä, G.; Johansson, M. A qualitative analysis of burnout in elite

Swedish athletes. Psychol. Sport Exerc. 2008, 9, 800–816. [CrossRef]
21. DeFreese, J.D.; Smith, A.L. Athlete social support, negative social interactions, and psychological health

across a competitive sport season. J. Sport Exerc. Psychol. 2014, 36, 619–630. [CrossRef]
22. Cheon, S.H.; Reeve, J. Do the benefits from autonomy-supportive PE teacher training programs endure?

A one-year follow-up investigation. Psychol. Sport Exerc. 2013, 14, 508–518. [CrossRef]
23. Seong, C.H. Perceived values and value systems for sport participating in youth sport. Kor. J. Sport Psychol.

2005, 16, 83–99.
24. Eccles, D.W.; Tran, K.B. Getting them on the same page: Strategies for enhancing coordination and

communication in sports teams. J. Sport Psychol. Action 2012, 3, 30–40. [CrossRef]
25. Jung, K.I.; Lim, D.K.; Choi, H.H. Analyzing the relationship between coaching behavior, coach-athlete

interaction, team atmosphere, and athlete burnout through path analysis. J. Learn. Cent. Curr. Ins. 2019,
19, 1081–1101. [CrossRef]

26. Kwon, S.H.; Choi, J.S.; Yook, D.W. Development of a communication training program and application for a
college ice hockey team. Korean J. Sport Sci. 2016, 27, 941–956. [CrossRef]

27. Bippus, A.M.; Kearney, P.; Plax, T.G.; Brooks, C.F. Teacher access and mentoring abilities: Predicting the
outcome value of extra class communication. J. Appl. Commun. Res. 2003, 31, 260–275. [CrossRef]

28. Goodboy, A.K.; Myers, S.A. The effect of teacher confirmation on student communication and
learning outcomes. Commun. Educ. 2008, 57, 153–179. [CrossRef]

29. Martin, M.M.; Mottet, T.P.; Myers, S.A. Students’ motives for communicating with their instructors and
affective and cognitive learning. Psychol. Rep. 2000, 87, 830–834. [CrossRef]

30. Mottet, T.P.; Beebe, S.A. Relationships between teacher nonverbal immediacy, student emotional response,
and perceived student learning. Commun. Res. Rep. 2002, 19, 77–88. [CrossRef]

31. Loughead, T.M.; Carron, A.V. The mediating role of cohesion in the leader behavior–satisfaction relationship.
Psychol. Sport Exerc. 2004, 5, 355–371. [CrossRef]

32. Martin, M.M.; Anderson, C.M. The relationship between cognitive flexibility and affinity-seeking strategies.
Adv. Psychol. Res. 2001, 4, 69–76.

33. Philippe, R.A.; Seiler, R. Closeness, co-orientation and complementarity in coach–athlete relationships:
What male swimmers say about their male coaches. Psychol. Sport Exerc. 2006, 7, 159–171. [CrossRef]

34. Cresswell, S.L.; Eklund, R.C. The nature of player burnout in rugby: Key characteristics and attributions.
J. Appl. Sport Psychol. 2006, 18, 219–239. [CrossRef]

35. Center for Self-Determination Theory. Available online: http://selfdeterminationtheory.org/pas-sport-climate
(accessed on 2 May 2020).

36. Kim, K.H.; Park, J.G. Examining the structural model of perceived autonomy support, basic needs,
and motivational orientations among collegiate athletes. Kor. J. Sport Psychol. 2009, 20, 33–48.

37. Bartholomew, K.J.; Ntoumanis, N.; Thøgersen-Ntoumani, C. The controlling interpersonal style in a coaching
context: Development and initial validation of a psychometric scale. J. Sport Exerc. Psychol. 2010, 32, 193–216.
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

38. Song, Y.G.; Cheon, S.H. Development and validation of controlling coach behaviors scale. Korean J. Sport Psychol.
2012, 23, 111–123.

39. Sullivan, P.J.; Short, S. Further operationalization of intra-team communication in sport: An updated
version of the scale of effective communication in team sports(SECTS-2). J. Appl. Soc. Psychol. 2011,
41, 471–487. [CrossRef]

40. Choi, H.H.; Cho, S.K.; Kim, Y.S. Validation of the communication scale in team sports. Korean Soc. Wellness
2018, 13, 179–191. [CrossRef]

41. Jowett, S.; Ntoumanis, N. The coach–athlete relationship questionnaire (CART-Q): Development and
initial validation. Scand. J. Med. Sci. Sports 2004, 14, 245–257. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 8618 16 of 17

42. Kim, K.H.; Park, J.G. Structural validation of the Korean version of coach-athlete relationship
questionnaire (KrCART-Q). Korean J. Phys. Educ. 2008, 47, 219–233.

43. Anderson, J.C.; Gerbing, D.W. Structural equation modeling in practice: A review and recommended
two-step approach. Psychol. Bull. 1988, 103, 411–423. [CrossRef]

44. Hair, J.F.; Black, B.; Babin, B.; Anderson, R.E.; Tatham, R.L. Multivariate Data Analysis, 6th ed.; Prentice-Hall:
London, UK, 2006.

45. Bae, B.R. Structural Equation Modeling Whit Amos 21; Chungram: Seoul, Korea, 2014.
46. Kline, R.B. Principles and Practice of Structural Equation Modeling, 2nd ed.; Guilford Press: New York,

NY, USA, 2005.
47. Kline, R.B. Principles and Practice of Structural Equation Modeling, 3rd ed.; Guilford Press: New York, NY, USA, 2011.
48. Choi, M.R.; Kim, B.J. Development of the athlete-coach behavior fit scale in badminton. Kor. J. Sport Psychol.

2007, 18, 101–117.
49. Shrout, P.E.; Bolger, N. Mediation in experimental and non-experimental studies: New procedures

and recommendations. Psychol. Methods 2002, 7, 422–445. [CrossRef]
50. Adie, J.W.; Duda, J.L.; Ntoumanis, N. Achievement goals, competition appraisals, and the psychological and

emotional welfare of sport participants. J. Sport Exerc. Psychol. 2008, 30, 302–322. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
51. Isoard-Gautheur, S.; Trouilloud, D.; Gustafsson, H.; Guillet-Descas, E. Associations between the perceived

quality of the coach–athlete relationship and athlete burnout: An examination of the mediating role of
achievement goals. Psychol. Sport Exerc. 2016, 22, 210–217. [CrossRef]

52. Assor, A.; Kaplan, H.; Roth, G. Choice is good, but relevance is excellent: Autonomy-enhancing and
suppressing teacher behaviours predicting students’ engagement in schoolwork. Brit. J. Educ. Psychol. 2002,
72, 261–278. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

53. Reeve, J.; Jang, H. What teachers say and do to support students’ autonomy during a learning activity.
J. Educ. Psychol. 2006, 98, 209. [CrossRef]

54. Reeve, J.; Jang, H.; Carrell, D.; Jeon, S.; Barch, J. Enhancing students’ engagement by increasing teachers’
autonomy support. Motiv. Emot. 2004, 28, 147–169. [CrossRef]

55. Davies, J.M. Team communication in the operating room. Acta Anaesthesiol. Scand. 2005, 49, 898–901. [CrossRef]
56. Sullivan, P.; Feltz, D.L. The preliminary development of the Scale for Effective Communication in Team

Sports (SECTS). J. Appl. Soc. Psychol. 2003, 33, 1693–1715. [CrossRef]
57. Choi, H.H.; Huh, J.Y. Role of between adolescent athletes perceived autonomy support and controlled

coaching behaviors on coach-athlete relationship. Kor. J. Sports Sci. 2014, 23, 581–591.
58. Hodge, K.; Lonsdale, C. Prosocial and antisocial behavior in sport: The role of coaching style, autonomous

vs. controlled motivation, and moral disengagement. J. Sport Exerc. Psychol. 2011, 33, 527–547. [CrossRef]
59. Lafreniére, M.A.K.; Jowett, S.; Vallerand, R.J.; Carbonneau, N. Passion for coaching and the quality of

the coach-athlete relationship: The mediating role of coaching behaviors. Psychol. Sport Exerc. 2011,
12, 144–152. [CrossRef]

60. Alvarez, M.S.; Balaguer, I.; Castillo, I.; Duda, J.L. Coach autonomy support and quality of sport engagement
in young soccer players. Span. J. Psychol. 2009, 12, 138–148. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

61. Gagné, M.; Ryan, R.; Bargmann, K. Autonomy support and need satisfaction in the motivation and well-being
of gymnasts. J. Appl. Sport Psychol. 2003, 15, 372–390. [CrossRef]

62. Reinboth, M.; Duda, J.L.; Ntoumanis, N. Dimensions of coaching behavior, need satisfaction, and the
psychological and physical welfare of young athletes. Motiv. Emot. 2004, 28, 297–313. [CrossRef]

63. LaVoi, N.M. Interpersonal communication and conflict in the coach-athlete relationship. In Social Psychology
in Sport; Jowett, S., Lavallee, D., Eds.; Human Kinetics: Champaign, IL, USA, 2007; pp. 29–40.

64. Liu, L.A.; Chua, C.H.; Stahl, G.K. Quality of communication experience: Definition, measurement,
and implications for intercultural negotiations. J. Appl. Psychol. 2010, 95, 469. [CrossRef]

65. Jowett, S.; Poczwardowski, A. Understanding the coach-athlete relationship. In Social Psychology in Sport;
Jowett, S., Lavallee, D., Eds.; Human Kinetics: Champaign, IL, USA, 2007; pp. 3–14.

66. Frisby, B.N.; Martin, M.M. Interpersonal motives and supportive communication. Comm. Res. Rep. 2010,
27, 320–329. [CrossRef]

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 8618 17 of 17

67. Myers, S.A.; Martin, M.M.; Knapp, J.L. Perceived instructor in-class communicative behaviors as a predictor
of student participation in out of class communication. Commun. Q. 2005, 53, 437–450. [CrossRef]

68. Lavoi, N.M. Dimensions of Closeness and Conflict in the Coach-Athlete Relationship. In Proceedings of
the Meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology, Minneapolis, MN, USA,
September 2004.

Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional
affiliations.

© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access
article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution
(CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

© 2020. This work is licensed under
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ (the “License”). Notwithstanding
the ProQuest Terms and Conditions, you may use this content in accordance

with the terms of the License.

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
    • Athlete Burnout
    • Coaching Style
    • Communication and Coach–Athlete Relationship
    • Relationship among Coaching Behavior, Communication, and Coach–Athlete Relationship and Athlete Burnout
  • Methods
    • Participants
    • Procedure
    • Instruments
    • Data Analysis
  • Results
    • Descriptive Statistics and Analysis of Correlations between Subfactors
    • Evaluation of the Measurement Model
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • References
Writerbay.net

We offer CUSTOM-WRITTEN, CONFIDENTIAL, ORIGINAL, and PRIVATE writing services. Kindly click on the ORDER NOW button to receive an A++ paper from our masters- and PhD writers.

Get a 10% discount on your order using the following coupon code SAVE10


Order a Similar Paper Order a Different Paper