Understanding social networks and social support resources with sports coaches

Luke A. Norris, Faye F. Didymus, Mariana Kaiseler

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Research on social support with sports coaches is limited, yet the benefits of social support within other occupations have been widely reported. This study explored sports coaches’ social network structures, the social support resources available to coaches, and the situations in which coaches use social support. Design: Cross-sectional. Method: Data were collected with male (n = 6) and female (n = 7) British coaches (Mage = 34.20, SD = 13.37; Mexperience = 13.20, SD = 10.41) using semi-structured interviews and interviewee-aided sociograms. Interview data and sociograms were analyzed using abductive thematic analysis and social network analysis to create ego-network diagrams. The ego-network diagrams were created to provide information on the locality and influence of coaches’ social network members. Results: The ego-network diagrams highlight that the structure of coaches’ social networks encompasses support from peers, friends, family, and miscellaneous (e.g., media). The diagrams also demonstrate that support from friends tended to be perceived as most influential. The coaches called on their network for appraisal (e.g., affirmation), emotional (e.g., venting), informational (e.g., training), and or instrumental support (e.g., cooking dinner) for a variety of situations, such as training (e.g., drill ideas) and issues with athletes (e.g., venting about a misbehaving player). Conclusion: Given the pertinence of coaches’ social networks and resources for performance and psychological well-being, coach education programs should include a focus on the importance of building relationships. Longitudinal research methods are warranted to, for example, explore the dynamic functions of coaches’ social support. This will develop a more comprehensive base from which interventions can be developed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Community
  • Mentor
  • Relationships
  • Stress management
  • Trust


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