The study conducted by a team of national and international scientists led by Dr Sophia Jowett, from the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, showed that the coach-athlete relationship was fundamental to world class performance and success.
They developed the world’s first theoretical model to explain the content and functions of the relationship. It is known as the 3+1Cs model of relationships: Closeness, Commitment, Complementary, and Co-orientation.
Earlier this year, an article published in the Journal of Coaching Education ranked Dr Jowett as the second most influential coaching scientist worldwide.
Dr Jowett is hoping to get her research adopted by national governing sports bodies and has been talking with the Football Association (FA), the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) and a charity called Sports Coach UK among others.
But she also thinks the research would be of benefit in other walks of life.
Dr Jowett, who has been researching the coach-athlete relationship for 10 years, said: “We are spreading our wings to other life domains
“What we have uncovered in sport has applications in business, medicine and education.
“The 3+1Cs model of relationships is a theoretical model that explains how people relate, communicate and interact.
“It can be easily applied to numerous types of relationships people develop and maintain over time, such as manager-employee, doctor-nurse-patient, teacher-pupil and so on.
“We are currently working on applying this model across and testing it in other domains.
“We are employing it in executive coaching within corporate organisations, and in education where we are investigating the quality and functions of the pupil-teacher relationship for achievement, success and happiness.
“So far, research findings suggest that the 3+1Cs relationship model and its accompanied psychometric tools translate well from sport to both executive coaching and education.
“The model and measures appear to generate valuable knowledge and understanding about the content, role and significance of these dynamic relationships.
“I’d love to be able to do some work in medicine with doctor-nurse-patient relationships with the aim to discover the ways quality relationships may help adherence to treatment and outcome of treatment, for example.”
Dr Jowett is keen for sports bodies to use her research findings. Her research has practical applications for enhancing the quality of sport coaching and, in turn, developing and maintaining sport talent.
She said: “I am at a pivotal point where we have so much knowledge I really want to get it out there. I’d like to engage with sports bodies so that the generated empirical knowledge is incorporated into coach education and athlete education.
“The PGA invited me to their national coach conference in May where I delivered a keynote to the delegates and it was received very well.
“We are back in touch with the PGA with the aim to create resources to assist coaches and golfers.
“We are in touch with Sports Coach UK and looking to create something with them.
“And the FA have asked me to write an article for one of their magazines. So we are starting to make some impact in these areas.
“In coach education there is a great emphasis on the technical, strategic, and tactical skills of the game, but a lack of the inter-personal aspects, including coach-athlete relationships, interactions, communication, and conflict.
“It is clear from our research that coaches who have the capacity to connect with their athletes are more likely to teach the sport more efficiently and effectively in a harmonious and stable environment, as well as produce performance accomplishments.
“Bridging the gap will be very beneficial and we might be looking at more success and more medals.”