Influence of Perceived Physical Literacy on Coaching Efficacy and Leadership Behavior: A Cross-Sectional Study.

Author:Li, Ming-Hui
Position:Research article - Report


The concept of physical literacy (PL) has drawn growing attention in the areas of health and physical education over the past decade. PL has been defined as "the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life" (Whitehead, 2016). In response to a global decline in children's and adolescent's physical activity participation, many countries who rank within the top 25 for obesity prevalence have embraced PL as the guiding ideology in their policies and programs (Spengler, 2014). This rationale has been premised on theorizations that PL individuals have more optimal chances to grow healthily in the physical, mental, and psychosocial domains (Corbin, 2016; Giblin et al., 2014; Longmuir and Tremblay, 2016; Roetert and MacDonald, 2015). The evolving interpretations of PL have emphasized a holistic embodiment to establish purposeful physical pursuits of an active lifestyle (Whitehead, 2010) and has been espoused to be a vital component of a healthy culture in which individuals live (Delaney and Donnelly, 2008).

PL is a multidimensional construct that has been examined within different epistemologies. One of these perspectives is the notion of perceived physical literacy (PPL), which is an individual's perceived capability in pursuing healthy and active lifestyle. Sum et al. (2016) identified three attributes of PPL in the process of construction and validation of a Perceived Physical Literacy Instrument (PPLI) for PE teachers, including Knowledge and Understanding (K&U), Self-expression and Communication with others (SE&C), and Sense of self and Self-confidence (SS&S). K&U depicted that a physically literate individual should have a better knowledge and understanding of the benefits of being physically active; SE&C showed that a physically literate individual should possess better self-expression and communication skills; and SS&S expressed that a physically literate individual should have a better sense of self and self-confidence (Sum et al., 2016). This model echoed with several of the kernel attributes of PL concept proposed by Whitehead (2010). Meanwhile, the multifaceted dimensions of PL have also included perceived competence or the ability of an individual to "read" a game or interpret movements (Flemons, 2013). Each of the dimensions is valuable in contributing to the promotion of lifelong physical activity (Whitehead, 2010). Although PL has been both widely explored in physical activity settings and is regarded as the educational requirements for physical education (Mandigo et al., 2007), little emphasis has been given to PL's strength in the coaching context.

Physical literacy and coaching contexts

Professional organizations across different countries (e.g. Youth Sport Trust in the UK, Canadian Sport for Life) view coaching as essential contexts during an individual's PL journey. While several studies have examined the potential connections between PL and coaching (Gallant et al., 2011; Haughey et al., 2013; Sullivan et al., 2010), only one case study has provided empirical evidence to highlight the important influence of PL knowledge in the coaching practice (Sullivan et al., 2010). The research has incorporated the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of PL into coach education curriculum on two stages of athlete development and emphasized that how to understand and apply the knowledge of PL on coaching is imperative for coaches in all sports. As a disposition that establishes purposeful embodiment for active lifestyle, higher levels of PL should facilitate longer-term involvement in the specific physical activities (Whitehead, 2010) and generate more confidence and physical competence for coaching behaviors(Sullivan et al., 2010). However, little is currently known of the influence of athletes' PL in the coaching practice and their PPL's influence on their confidence, physical competence and behavior from athletes' perspectives.

As a construct referring to confidence in the coaching context, coaching efficacy (CE) was defined as the extent to which a coach believes in the personal capacity to affect the learning and performance of the athletes (Feltz et al., 1999). Researchers have identified several sources of CE, such as coaching experience/preparation (Sullivan et al., 2006), and previous performance success (Feltz et al., 2008; Chase et al., 2005). More recent studies have highlighted the importance of athletes' perceptions on CE in the coaching context (Boardley et al., 2008; Horn, 2002; Myers et al., 2006a; Kavussanu et al., 2008). For example, Boardley et al. (2008) found that athletes' perceptions of CE influenced the effectiveness of coaching by emphasizing the positive correlation between athletes' commitment, enjoyment, and self-efficacy to their perceptions of CE. These factors referred to both physical and psychological dimensions of athletes, which was the embodiment of athletes' interconnected capabilities. As Whitehead (2010) described an individual as "an indivisible entity comprised of reciprocally enriching modes of interacting with the world" (p.12), this idea aligned with philosophical foundations of the concept of PL. Therefore, athletes' PPL has had the potential to influence their perceptions of CE. Another potential source of embodiment which has received less attention is the understanding of athlete motivation, expression and regulation of self within the coaching context and how it interconnects with coaches' behaviors (Hwang et al., 2013). This potential of reciprocity between athlete and coach provides a theoretical justification for examining the relationship between the athletes' PPL and their perceptions of their coaches' efficacy.

Feltz et al.'s (1999) model also suggested a primary outcome of CE was coaching behaviors. They summarized that behavioral outcomes included praise/encouragement, instruction/organization, and punishment/control. One important style of coaching behavior was leadership behavior (LB). Chelladurai (1999) constructed the multidimensional model of leadership in sport, which recognized that LB was largely a function of leaders' personal attributes. A large body of studies (Horn, 2002; Hwang et al., 2013; Kavussanu et al., 2008; Myers et al., 2005; Sullivan and Kent, 2003; Sullivan et al., 2012) have provided empirical evidence that as a personality attribute, CE was a strong predictor of LB. Sullivan and Kent (2003) for example, revealed that the more confident coaches were in motivating and teaching techniques the greater the frequency of leadership behaviors they showed to athletes. However, the relationship between CE and LB from athletes' perspective has not received the same level of attention. Chelladurai (1984) found that a discrepancy exists between preferred and perceived LB among athletes, indicating athletes' perceptions of LB are important to consider. Studies from several countries including Canada (Saville and Bray, 2016), Singapore (Pyun et al., 2010), Africa (Boardley et al., 2008; Surujlal and Dhurup, 2012) have shown that athletes' perceptions of their coaches' efficacy were related to their perceptions of LB. These findings lent support to evidence that athletes' perceptions of CE influenced their perceptions of coaches' LB. While Whitehead (2001) suggested that PL is the embodiment that includes self and social motivation, self-regulation, and responsible decisionmaking, the attributes of PL also may have close connections with the motivational factors and decision-making factors in coaches' LB.

A working model of coaching effectiveness (Figure 1) showed that CE can be regarded as one of the coaches' personal characteristics that influence coaching effectiveness, the leadership style of coaches' behavior is a direct style of behavior to influence coaching effectiveness (Hwang et al., 2013). More importantly, athletes' self-perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes directly reflect their behavior, while athletes' perception, interpretation, and evaluation of their coaches' could indirectly impact athletes' performance and behavior (Horn, 2002). A few studies consistently compared the reports of coaches and athletes towards coaching effectiveness and found coaches rated their behaviors substantially more positively than their athletes did (Kenow and Williams, 1992; Kavussanu et al., 2008). Therefore, exploring the possible strength of PPL on CE and LB from the perceptions of athletes is of paramount importance.

The purpose of the present study was to explore the possible influence of PPL on coaching from the perceptions of student-athletes. As CE directly produced outcomes in behaviors and PPL had the...

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