Date of Award

Spring 5-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Kinesiology and Nutrition

Committee Chair

Dr. Melissa Thompson

Committee Chair School

Kinesiology and Nutrition

Committee Member 2

Dr. Morgan Eckenrod

Committee Member 2 School

Kinesiology and Nutrition

Committee Member 3

Dr. Laurie Neelis

Committee Member 3 School

Kinesiology and Nutrition

Committee Member 4

Dr. Hal Wilson


Sport coaching occurs in an ambiguous, complex, and dynamic environment bounded by rules, structures, and traditions unique to the context in which it occurs (ICCE et al., 2013; Jones & Wallace, 2005; Nash & Collins, 2006). Coaching is therefore not only pedagogical in nature but also features social and political elements (Abraham & Collins, 2011) focused on athlete development within a specific social and organizational context (ICCE et al., 2013). At the heart of this coaching practice is a constant process of decision-making (Abraham et al., 2006; Lyle & Vergeer, 2013; Vergeer & Lyle, 2009). However, research on the decision-making processes that focus on holistic athlete and program development (i.e. those that occur out of action), is absent from the literature.

The Mosier and Fischer (2010) human factors decision framework, which highlights that influences on real-world decisions can come from one of five areas: the organization, available technology, the decision-making team, the task environment, and the individual, was adopted as the theoretical framework for the present study. The researcher targeted two primary research questions: what elements of the organizational environment influence the out-of-action decisions made by coaches? and, how were these organizational elements influential in the course of making a difficult, out-of-action decision? Fourteen interscholastic head coaches from schools in the southeastern United States participated in semi-structured interviews. Following thematic analysis, four themes emerged: school environment, the decision-making team, administrators, and parents of athletes. These results support the influence of organizational elements as suggested by Mosier and Fischer while also extending the conceptual understanding of the impact of organizational influences on coach decision-making.