Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Jeffrey L. Cochran

Committee Members

Leslee A. Fisher, Rebecca A. Zakrajsek


Person-centered theory (Rogers, 1959) offers a framework for helping relationships (e.g. parent-child, teacher-student, counselor-client). From this theoretical lens, unconditional positive regard (UPR) is considered a key construct for nurturing growth processes and adaptive psychological development, while its opposite constructs – conditional regard, unconditional negative regard, and disregard – are suggested to undermine adaptive development. Researchers have demonstrated that the coach-athlete relationship may serve as a helping relationship (e.g. Jowett, 2007; Mageau & Vallerand, 2003), or that it could function as a controlling relationship (e.g. Bartholomew, Ntoumani, & Thogerson-Ntoumani, 2010). Scholars have also emphasized the need to draw from relational theories from other disciplines to deepen our understanding of the coach-athlete relationship (Pocswardowski, Barrot, & Jowett, 2006). Thus, the current study aimed to extend the theoretical constructs of UPR and its opposites to the coach-athlete relationship context by interviewing 11 retired elite-level figure skaters’ about their past relationships with coaches. Using Qualitative Content Analysis (Schreier, 2012) procedures, five dimensions were constructed: (1) descriptions of perceived components of UPR from a former coach, (2) descriptions of perceived opposites of UPR from a former coach, (3) perceived influence of coach regard (4) interaction of influence between coach regard and contextual conditions, and (5) coach regard and use of power. Participants who described the perception of UPR from former coaches reported that their coaches’ regard contributed to their confidence, passion for the sport, and persistence through challenges. Those who described perceptions of the opposites of UPR from former coaches reported that their coaches’ regard contributed to lowered confidence, decreased enjoyment in sport over time, and burnout.

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