Coaching Styles and Their Impact on Athletes

Youth basketball coachA coach is the kind of person who will be one of the most influential for a young athlete. There is a lot of research regarding the psychological impact a coach has on an athlete and a team’s success. Various coaching styles have been shown to have either a positive or a negative effect on performance. There is even evidence showing that a coach’s behavior and actions can affect the motivation of athletes. In this paper, I wanted to investigate how the different coaching styles and behaviors truly affect an athlete’s and overall team success.

All coaches have their own unique coaching style and the way it is implemented will affect their athletes’ performance. Marcone (2017) suggests that the impact on an athlete’s motivation and performance can be extremely significant; the varying styles of coaching could either fulfill or neglect an athlete’s psychological needs. Marcone (2017) explains that recent research has shown that an autonomy supportive coaching style/behavior fulfill the needs of athletes and result in a greater success overall in their improvement and performance. Similarly, Jones (2020) also investigated different coaching styles and their impact on athletes. To find the most efficient coaching styles, the leadership scale for sport and the multidimensional model for leadership was used. Jones (2020) found that youth and high school athletes prevailed most under democratic and social support coaching styles; in college athletes, it was suggested that a democratic style of coaching led to more team cohesion and freedom. Jones (2020) then suggested that an autocratic/authoritarian style of coaching was not efficient for any athletes. An autocratic style doesn’t allow the freedom or autonomy that athletes need to succeed (Jones, 2020). In a similar study, Brinton et al. (2017) revealed that authoritative coaching styles were a significant predictor of autonomy and competence by the athlete. An authoritarian coaching style was a significant negative predictor of athlete autonomy levels (Brinton et al., 2017).

Mertens et al. (2018) investigated the impact of competence support provided by coaches and athlete leaders on players’ competence satisfaction, intrinsic motivation, and performance and found that teams achieving higher levels of competence satisfaction and intrinsic motivation had the competence support from the coach. This study reveals the importance of support from leaders/coaches to improve team performance and it reiterates just how easy it is for coaches to influence their athletes. Coaches have the power to motivate their athletes’ minds and muscles as they train to improve performance (Northcentral University, 2018). The only way to achieve this is by maintaining a positive relationship with their players and proving that they can trust and fully commit to their team.

Many athletes will continue to learn and grow with multiple coaches along the way. It is a coach’s job to be one that many would call a role model as they will be impacting their athlete’s lives more than they originally may think. To be a successful coach and role model, it will be important for them to consider many different coaching styles that will be most effective for their team’s performance. It takes some experimenting to find the most efficient path, but the time taken will be worth it. As shown in the research above, the least effective coaching style is the authoritarian style. This style will make a coach seem controlling and strict. This has proven to cause a negative psychological impact on athletes. The athletes who experience coaches who behave in an authoritarian way cannot create the trust and positive relationships that are critical for team success. A similar authoritarian style has proven to show improvements in competence and performance, but there are still the positive connections and support that are missing for an athlete’s psychological needs. Studies have shown that the most effective coaching style among all ages is the autonomy style. The autonomy coaching style is recommended because it allows for players to have freedom and support from the coach. These are the kinds of coaches who are considered role models as they provide positive psychological effects for athletes. It’s important for coaches to consider their options and understand that they will be impacting many athlete’s lives. This isn’t the kind of job where coaches can be selfish because they need to be available to enhance and support their athletes’ needs and goals.

Coaching is a difficult job. There are a lot of things that need to be considered and implemented to achieve success in a team's performance. Athletes are impacted every day by the decisions and actions put forth by their coaches. This is why it is a coach’s responsibility to put the goals and needs of their athletes first and strive to provide their athletes with the tools they need to succeed.


Brinton, C. S., Hill, B. J., & Ward, P. J. (2017). Authoritative coach: Building youth through sport. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 35(1), 51–65.

How coaches can impact athlete focus. Northcentral University. (2018, February 7).

Jones, K. (n.d.). Coaching styles and its effect on team performance. Digital Commons @Brockport.

Mertens, N., Boen, F., Vande Broek, G., Vansteenkiste, M., & Fransen, K. (2018). An experiment on the impact of coaches’ and athlete leaders’ competence support on athletes’ motivation and performance. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 28(12), 2734–2750.

Marcone, M. (n.d.). The impact of coaching styles on the motivation and performance of athletes. Digital Commons @Brockport.