Date of Award

Summer 8-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Melissa Thompson

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Trenton Gould

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Robert Doan

Committee Member 3 Department


Committee Member 4

Nancy Speed

Committee Member 4 Department



The coach expectancy cycle is a four-stage model that explains coaches’ feedback behaviors (Horn, Lox, and Labrador, 1998). In the first stage coaches make judgments based off of previous sport experience and knowledge. In the second stage, these judgments influence coaches’ behaviors. Solomon (2008, 2012) has shown that coaches provide more instruction, praise, and corrective instruction to athletes they perceive to be higher expectancy. In the third stage, the unequal behaviors coaches exhibit affect athlete performance and satisfaction in sport. Research has shown that athletes perceptions of poor coaching behavior positively correlates with drop out (Gearity & Murray, 2011; Hollembeak & Amorose, 2005) In the fourth stage, athlete performance reinforces coaches’ initial expectations, thereby creating a continuous cycle. Although this cycle’s occurrence has been confirmed in high school and collegiate sport, the youth sport setting has seen minimal research (Solomon, 1998).

The purpose of the present study is twofold. First, to confirm the presence of the second stage of the coach expectancy cycle in a competitive youth sport context. Specifically, to investigate if competitive soccer coaches provide higher instances of instruction, correction, and praise to high expectancy athletes when compared to their low expectancy peers. Second, to provide a coach education intervention aimed at decreasing the disparity of behaviors between high and low expectancy athletes in a treatment group. A strategic sample (N=8) of competitive youth soccer coaches was selected to participate in six weeks of behavioral observation. The first three weeks of data were analyzed using three Mann-Whitney U rank order tests to confirm coaches provide higher feedback to youth athletes they perceive to be high expectancy. A treatment group of coaches received an intervention to reduce the disparity in behavior. Post-intervention, three repeated measures ANOVA’s tested the effects of the intervention. Mann Whitney U tests revealed coaches provided significantly more of all three behaviors to high expectancy athletes. Although the RM-ANOVRA’s did not yield significant results, large effect sizes suggest that with a larger sample a behavioral intervention could statistically reduce the disparity of behaviors seen between high and low expectancy athletes.