Coaching Leadership Approach, Children's Performance and Motivation to Continue Football Training
Eleftheriadis, Leonidas (2019)
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Football is the most widespread sport not only in the world but in Greece as well. It is a team sport played with a ball trying to score at the goals. Nowadays it is the most popular sport among children. They join the sport at early ages in football academies and clubs. Due to dropout of young athletes from sports as they grow, there is a need to explore how coaches can promote adherence and increase athletes’ motivation. Coaches for these ages do not always have a solid sport science background, they are mostly volunteers, ex-athletes or novices with limited previous training to lead the youngsters. The topic of my thesis is about a small-scale quantitative, field experiment that tests two different leadership-coaching approaches (democratic/autonomy supportive versus autocratic/controlling), on teaching football skills to young footballers and examine the effects on their performance, intrinsic motivation and intention to continue football training for the next training season. The commissioning party was chosen to be the football club “Ippokrates” and their academies, which promotes well-being and football in Athens, Greece and more specifically in the region of Peristeri, a municipality in Athens with many local football clubs. Twenty-two young footballers, aged 6-9, assigned equally in 2 groups. Group A: Democratic/autonomy support and group B Autocratic/controlling. Their coach is instructed to apply different techniques to each group that corresponded to the different respective approaches. Both groups practiced the same passing and shooting skills for four training sessions. Results showed that there were no significant improvements on both skill tests, however mean observations favored the democratic/autonomy supportive group. Moreover, the democratic/autonomy supportive group scored significantly higher on intrinsic motivation and intention to continue football training. Finally, I discuss my results as well as limitations of my thesis and practical implications on how coaches can lead young athletes during training to learn, enjoy and adhere to sports.