Date of Award

12-2005

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Sport Studies

Major Professor

Craig Wrisberg

Committee Members

Joy T. DeSensi, Leslie A. Fisher

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to determine the extent to which there is a correspondence between athletes' perceptions of their coach's expectations and the coach's actual expectations. It was predicted that a significant difference would exist between the coach's expectations of high and low expectancy athletes (Solomon et. al, 1996a; Solomon, 2002; Solomon et. al 1996b). In addition, for both groups of athletes, it was predicted that there would be no difference between athletes' perceptions of their coach's expectations and the coach's actual expectations, supporting the notion that both groups of athletes accurately perceive the expectations their coach has for them.

The participants in this study consisted of coaches (N=2) and athletes (N=49) from two female intercollegiate athletic teams (1 lacrosse and 1 softball) from the Northeastern United States. The athletes' ages ranged from 18 to 22 years and the coaches' ages were 41 and 52 years. Prior to the beginning of their competitive season each coach was asked to fill out a revised expectancy rating form for each of their athletes rating them on both physical and psychological skills. At the conclusion of the regular season each player completed an athlete revised rating form, which indicated their perceptions of their coach's expectations of them. An independent t-test was used to determine whether a significant difference existed between coaches' expectations of high and low expectancy athletes. Separate independent t-tests were also conducted to determine whether a significant difference existed between high and low expectancy athletes' perceptions of their coach's expectations and the coach's actual expectations.

Consistent with expectations, a significant difference was found to exist between coaches' expectations of high and low expectancy athletes and no significant difference existed between the low expectancy athletes' perceptions of their coach's expectations and the coach's actual expectations. Thus, it was concluded that the low expectancy athletes in this sample, perceived their coach's expectations accurately, presumably based on the verbal and non-verbal behaviors the coach displayed toward them.

A significant difference was found between high expectancy athletes' perceptions of their coach's expectations and the coach's actual expectations. High expectancy athletes rated themselves lower than what their coaches rated them. Thus, it was concluded that high expectancy athletes in this given sample either did not fulfill their potential for the season and in turn rated themselves on average four points lower than what their coaches rated them, or perhaps the high expectancy athletes did not receive enough positive reinforcement from their coaches thus creating a communication barrier. The communications barrier could be due to the fact that coaches may have assumed that their high expectancy athletes were on the same page as them and that they didn't need as much reinforcement when in fact they did.

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