World first research from Loughborough University has highlighted the importance of a good quality relationship between coaches and their athletes in ensuring world-class performance, and increasing successful and satisfying participation in sport at all levels.
The ongoing research program – carried out by a team of researchers from the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences and led by Dr Sophia Jowett, alongside national and international collaborators – emphasises that the coach-athlete relationship is not an ‘add-on’ or ‘by-product’ of sport, but the foundation of sport.
Dr Jowett and her research team have developed the world’s first and only theoretical model to explain the content and quality of the coach-athlete relationship. This model is known as: 3+1Cs: Closeness, Commitment, Complementarity, and Co-orientation.
The 3+1Cs model and its accompanied psychometric measures have enabled them to systematically explore the links between the quality of the coach-athlete relationship (i.e. 3+1Cs) and important factors such as performance, satisfaction, motivation, passion, confidence, physical self-concept across different level of sport participation ranging from elite to grassroots sport.
Dr Sophia Jowett said the team’s research shows the relationship developed between coaches and athletes is a fundamental medium that can make the journey to achieving great success less arduous and more fulfilling.
“We have heard the best athletes in the world during the recent Olympic and Paralympic Games say how grateful they were of their coaches’ efforts and belief in them. Their statements not only underline their appreciation, respect, and commitment to their coaches but also reflects the importance of these coach-athlete partnerships,” she said.
“ It is important to educate athletes and coaches at all levels of participation of the vital role effective coach-athlete relationships can ultimately play in their success and satisfaction.”
In the wake of Team GBs Olympic and Paralympic success and subsequent increased interest in, and importance placed on, developing world class sport performances in the UK, Dr Jowett said now is the time to incorporate this accumulated knowledge and understanding around coach-athlete relationships into coach education programmes, as well as into sport policy development that aims to support the developing athlete and coach or promote the interests of sport at all levels.
“While our research is on-going, we now have more research findings than ever before to show how pivotal the quality of the coach-athlete relationship is for athletes and coaches’ experience of sport,” she said.