Athlete preference of coach’s leadership style

  • J Surujlal
  • M Dhurup
Keywords: Leadership, athletes, autocratic, democratic, feedback, social support


A substantial body of literature refers to coaches as leaders. Currently in football, the terms ‘coach’ and ‘manager’ are used interchangeably. Similarly, many researchers in sport settings use the terms ‘coach’ and ‘leader’ interchangeably reinforcing the presupposition that coaches are leaders. Success in sport coaching depends, largely, on the leadership style of the coach. It is expected of the coach to try to ensure that there is congruency between the required, actual and preferred leadership behaviour. This may require the coach to display flexibility in adapting his/her leadership style to suit specific leadership situations so that all stakeholders (i.e. coach, athletes and management) are satisfied. Coaches wield strong influence over their athletes, therefore their leadership skills forms a vital element of their coaching. The purpose of the study is therefore to identify athletes’ preference of coach leadership style and to determine whether there are any differences in the leadership preferences of male and female athletes. A convenient sample of 400 student-athletes at two universities in the Gauteng Province of South Africa comprised the participants in this study. An adapted version of the Leadership Scale for Sports (LSS) (Chelladurai & Saleh, 1978) to suit the South African context was administered by trained fieldworkers. Descriptive statistics were used to report on the data. Mean scores, standard deviations and effect sizes were used in describing the data. Effect sizes were used determine differences between male and female athletes. The use of effect sizes enabled conclusions to be drawn based entirely on descriptive measures of the data. To determine whether the differences in the means of any two groups were significant, the t-test using a significance level of 0.05 was utilised. The results reflected the most preferred coaching behaviours were training and instruction (mean=1.98) and positive feedback (mean=1.98) while the least preferred behavior was autocratic behaviours.

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2411-6939