Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Sports Education Leadership


Sports Education Leadership

First Committee Member

Doris Watson, Chair

Second Committee Member

Jerry Landwer

Third Committee Member

Nancy Lough

Graduate Faculty Representative

LeAnn Putney

Number of Pages



The primary purpose of this project was to approach the complexity of coaching by embracing the tensions inherently found in the coaching process. In doing so, the goal was to develop a grounded theory that describes the process interscholastic team coaches' use in doing their job from a paradoxical perspective. While working to achieve that goal, the coaching process was described using language that is meaningful for practicing coaches. In addition, the nature a coaching philosophy plays in the decision-making process for coaches was also probed. The goals of this study were developed because of coaching science's failure to adequately describe the link between the inner (antecedent) and outer (behavioral) aspects of the coaching self. Said simply, researchers have failed to effectively describe what it means to coach authentically--the notion of a thoughtful practitioner (Rink, 1997). The research design included a grounded theory methodology following the traditions of Strauss and Corbin (1990, 1994, 1998). Participation in the study was limited to interscholastic "team sport" coaches with a minimum of five years head coaching experience. Eight coaches representing the sports of football, soccer, volleyball, and basketball were participating in the study at the time of theoretical saturation.

The theory developed because of this study highlights the paradoxical qualities of the coaching process, and is comprised of six components: (a) Personal History, (b) The Coaching Belief Triad, (c) Focus, (d) Coaching Action, and (e) Success Outcomes, (f) Tradition. The six components form a framework described in the paper as The Authentic Coaching Model. The six elements are held together by three foundational paradoxes; the paradox of authenticity, paradox of purpose, and the pendulum paradox. These three invisible forces weave through the framework creating a sense of wholeness--authentic coaching. The paradox of authenticity runs through the framework and explains how the coaches bind together the inner and outer coaching self. Most important to the notion of authenticity is the alignment between beliefs and behavior. The paradox of purpose describes the complexities coaches must traverse across the athletic environment in order to achieve success. In essence, the paradox explains why it is so difficult for coaches to get what they desire. The pendulum paradox utilizes the metaphor of a swing to help explain how authentic coaches move around the coaching process. The pendulum effect utilizes the paradoxical energy of past vs. future, inner vs. outer, beliefs vs. action, to swing back and forth gaining speed and power with each oscillation.

The present study demonstrated that the coaching process for interscholastic team coaches is inherently paradoxical--embroiled in tensions, complexity, and reinforcing cycles at its very core. Despite recognizing that the theory presented in this paper is substantive in nature, and only investigated interscholastic team sport coaches, there is high confidence that by utilizing the methodological techniques established throughout this study, it is possible to investigate other competitive contexts as well as different sport contexts. This study demonstrated that although no two coaches are exactly alike, coaches do have commonly occurring attributes that allow researchers to classify and compare them. Continuing to investigate the commonalities among coaches, researchers can aid athletic coaching education (ACE) by describing the coaching process from a paradoxical perspective, which allows the coaching process to be viewed as an integrated whole functioning within a dynamic environment.


Athletic coaching education; Authenticity; Behaviors; Coaching (Athletics) – Study and teaching; Education; Grounded theory; Interscholastic team sports; Philosophy; School sports; Team sports


Education | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education | Social Psychology and Interaction | Sports Studies

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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