Previous experiences of novice coaches and their coach-created motivational climate: a collective case study

Diane Benish, West Virginia University
Jody Langdon, Georgia Southern University
Brian Culp, Kennesaw State University


Background: Novice coaches receive little attention in the literature as many studies choose to focus on experienced and elite level coaches. Those involved in the development of coaches have a responsibility to understand how novice coaches are navigating their initial coaching experiences within higher education programs. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of novice coaches as athletes and in their current coaching roles. A secondary purpose was to explore how these experiences manifested in novice coaches’ observed coach-created motivational climate. Method: Three novice coaches (2 males, 1 female) were recruited from a higher education coach education program. Two practice observations were recorded for each coach and coded via systematic observation. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with each participant to gather information pertaining to their athletic and coaching history, coaching philosophy, and current coaching position. Using a collective case study approach, interview data and observations were simultaneously reviewed to draw out themes related to participants’ experiences. Results: Novice coaches’ informal and formal learning contributed to the conceptualization of their coaching philosophies and subsequent coaching behavior, revealing examples of how novice coaches support and undermine various aspects of their coaching philosophies through engagement in empowering and disempowering behaviors. Conclusion: This study extends the knowledge of novice coaches experiences and development of coaching practice during their practicum placement in higher education. Among the discrepancies between coaches’ intentions for coaching and their actual coaching, behaviors observed were dependent upon the social context.