Perceptions of Sources of Pressure and Reasons for Dismissals of Mississippi High School Head Coaches

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Performance and Recreation

First Advisor

Nancy Magee Speed

Advisor Department

Human Performance and Recreation


The coaching profession is like a roller coaster ride. A person pays to get on the ride, sacrifices their life, enjoys the highs, and survives the lows. It is a job filled with long hours, stressful days, sacrifices of health and family, and moments of adrenaline rushes that make an individual want to stay in this profession forever. The primary focus of this study was to identify the perceived sources of pressure on high school head coaches in the state of Mississippi. This study provides feedback regarding reasons for coaching dismissals and perceived sources of pressure. Two hundred and thirty four principals, 233 head football, 207 baseball, 197 softball, and 391 boys/girls basketball coaches employed in the state of Mississippi were utilized for the study. The study found that principals and coaches agreed on the top five perceived sources of pressure: coach themselves, parents, team sports, fans, and teaching. The significantly different perceived sources of pressure were individual sports, administration, family, and the media. Perceived sources of pressure between coaches of female sports and coaches of male sports were in agreement for the top six sources: coach themselves, parents, team sports, fans, teaching, and administration. The significantly different perceived sources of pressure were individual sports and parents. There was no significant difference found with perceived sources of pressure between years of experience of coaches. Principals stated that improper conduct was the main reason for dismissing coaches, followed by failure to motivate players, and the coach/player relationship. Coaches stated that failure to win was the main reason for dismissals, followed by coach/administrator relationship, and improper conduct. Both principals and coaches ranked teaching performance as the least likely reason for dismissing a coach. Whether it is playing within the rules, teaching techniques, producing a competitive team, or being a positive role model, coaches want respect from their peers, administrators, and community. Administrators and head coaches need to communicate the roles and expectations of the athletic program to ease the sources of pressure and set a common standard for reasons for dismissals.