Elite Athlete Perceptions of Strength & Conditioning Coaches – Part One – Abstract

Sports coaching research has identified the importance of positive coach-athlete relationships as a means to improve athlete performance and satisfaction, however there has been minimal investigation into these relationships within the sub-disciplines of coaching such as strength and conditioning. The purpose of this project was to investigate elite athletes’ perceptions of strength and conditioning coaches, specifically; (1) their character traits; (2) their effective behaviours that displayed these traits; and (3) how coach-athlete relationships were fostered. Using the 3+1 C’s model of coach-athlete relationships as a framework, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 elite athletes from nine sports regarding their perceptions of, and preferences for strength and conditioning coach behaviour, as well as how these relationships had evolved. The athletes reported having an average of four professional strength and conditioning coaches and their responses were classified into themes under the constructs of ‘closeness’, ‘commitment’, ‘complementarity’ and ‘co-orientation’. Athletes preferenced coaches who were adaptable, honest, attentive and humorous and perceived direct feedback, mutual goal setting and taking an interest in the human beyond the athlete as effective behaviours. These relationships were built on time spent together, positive and negative shared experiences both positive and negative and face-to-face communication.