Factors influencing the Quality of the Coach-Athlete Relationship During the Specialisation Phase in Female Football

Scott Bradley, Rachael Brient

Research output: Contribution to ConferenceAbstractpeer-review


The Coach-Athlete Relationship (CAR) is a dynamic and dyadic relationship formed between athlete and coach that is supportive of enhanced levels of coaching effectiveness, athlete wellbeing and sport performance. However, a paucity of research exists that has explored coach and athlete perceptions of effective CARs across developmental stages in female sport. Following ethical approval, female footballers (n = 18) and high-performance football coaches (n = 6) in specialisation phase age groups (U12, U14, U16), on the FA female talent pathway, completed the coach or athlete version of the coach-athlete relationship questionnaire (CART-Q), and qualitative open-ended questions exploring coach-athlete perceptions of effective CARs. CART-Q scores were directly compared across specialisation phase age groups; responses to open-ended questions were thematically analysed using a constant comparison method and presented as direct textual quotations. The findings indicated: positive trends (complimentarity; co-orientation), stable trend (commitment), and unstable trend (closeness) for CART-Q scores across age groups. Significantly, closeness scores (U16) were lower in comparison with all other age groups. Furthermore, qualitative responses identified that perceptions of CAR supportive conditions varied across age-groups: establishing ‘trust’ and an ‘open dialogue’ emerged as common themes for all age groups; ‘feeling listened to’ emerged as a common theme in the U16 age group only. Findings suggest that gender and athlete developmental-stage represent influential criteria determining perceived CAR effectiveness in sport. It is recommended that future research is grounded in the context of female sport, and that applied practitioners fully consider the influence of developmental and psychological differences.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020
Event2019 Women in Sport and Exercise Conference - St Mary’s University, Twickenham, United Kingdom
Duration: 11 Jun 201912 Jun 2019


Conference2019 Women in Sport and Exercise Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

Bibliographical note

© 2020 University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG)


  • Coach-athlete relationship
  • Female football
  • Women
  • Sport
  • Physical activity


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