Collegiate Assistant Coaches’ Perceptions of Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction and Thwarting from Head Coaches: A Qualitative Investigation

Rebecca A. Zakrajsek, Johannes Raabe, Tucker Readdy, Sara Erdner, Andrew Bass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Seventeen National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I assistant coaches participated in semi-structured interviews about the role head coaches play in fulfilling or thwarting their basic psychological needs and motivation. Using Consensual Qualitative Research procedures, four domains emerged: (a) assistant coaches have a need to make a difference; (b) cultural factors in coaching that affect head coach behaviors; (c) quality communication facilitates “being on the same page”; and (d) making assistant coaches feel valued, competent, and connected strengthens their motivation. Findings highlight elements of effective interactions that can enhance assistant coaches’ need satisfaction and, ultimately, their motivation and professional growth. Lay Summary: This study explored the role that head coaches played in influencing assistant coaches’ basic psychological needs and motivation. Head coaches satisfied assistant coaches’ basic psychological needs and enhanced motivation by giving them meaningful responsibilities, genuinely seeking their opinion, recognizing their efforts, caring about them as people, and investing in their development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-47
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Applied Sport Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2 2020


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology

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