Coach and athlete leadership in sport

Authored by: Todd M. Loughead , Gordon A. Bloom

Routledge International Handbook of Sport Psychology

Print publication date:  February  2016
Online publication date:  February  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138022423
eBook ISBN: 9781315777054
Adobe ISBN: 9781317692324


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Leadership has traditionally been assigned great importance by coaches, athletes, spectators, and media. In the sport context, coaches such as Sir Alex Ferguson, Phil Jackson, and Pat Summitt, and players such as Derek Jeter, Michael Jordan, and Sheryl Swoopes were highly regarded for their leadership abilities. Historically, coaches have been viewed as the leader of their respective teams. However, the importance of athlete leadership has received increased attention lately from both the media and academic communities. A recent example of strong coach and athlete leadership can be seen with the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Based on their years of consistency, the Spurs are viewed as the model franchise in the NBA. Their head coach, Gregg Popovich, has won three coach of the year awards and four NBA championships, and has a career winning percentage of.689 – third best in league history. Despite being considered one of basketball’s best leaders, Popovich has always credited the team’s leadership core (Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili) as a key element of their success. Consequently, the objectives of this chapter are to present an overview of the models and theories of coach and athlete leadership, as well as the research that has been carried out in these contexts.

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