Body size and perceptions of coaching behaviors by adolescent female athletes

Sean P. Cumming, Joey C. Eisenmann, Frank L. Smoll, Ronald E. Smith, Robert M. Malina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (SciVal)


Objectives: To investigate relations among body size, perceptions of coaching behaviors, and attitudes toward the coach and sport in adolescent female athletes in three sports. Design: Field correlational design. Method: Female athletes, 14-18 years, participating in high school basketball, gymnastics, and soccer (N = 227) completed questionnaires dealing with the perceived frequency of coaching behaviors, evaluative reactions to the coach, and liking for the sport. Coaches rated the ability and performance of each athlete during the season. Results: Partial correlations between indicators of body size and athlete perceptions of coaching behaviors, controlling for age and ratings of ability and performance, varied by sport. Among gymnasts, measures of body size were associated with less positive and supportive interactions with coaches and less liking for the coach. Contrary to expectations, the stature of the basketball players was unrelated to their perceptions of coaching behaviors or their liking for the coach and sport. Body size was unrelated to athlete perceptions of coaching behaviors and evaluative responses in soccer. Conclusions: In support of [Petersen, A. C., & Taylor, B. (1980). The biological approach to adolescence: Biological change and psychological adaptation. In J. Adelson (Ed.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (pp. 117-155). New York: Wiley-Interscience.] Mediated Effects Model of Psychological Adaptation to Puberty, the results suggest that body size, even with age, ability and performance held constant, may engage sport specific stereotypes that influence coaches' positive and negative behaviors, particularly in sports where body size is related to athletic potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-705
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2005


  • Body size
  • Coaching behaviors
  • Female athletes
  • Gender stereotypes
  • Gymnastics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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