Social Support and Democratic Behavior Styles of Leadership Preferred by Female Athletes in Middle School Athletic Programs

Authors: Raymond Tucker

Corresponding Author:
Raymond Tucker, D.S.M, CSCS, FMSL1, USATFL1, USAWLP-1
Assistant Professor of Kinesiology
University of Houston at Victoria
3007 N. Ben Wilson
Victoria, Texas 77901
Phone: (361)-570-4381
rtbills2001@gmail.com

Raymond Tucker is an assistant professor of Kinesiology at the University of Houston at Victoria. He is a graduate of the United States Sports Academy with a Doctorate in Sports Management, and he is a certified strength and conditioning specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is also a certified coach by the United States Track and Field Association, United States Weightlifting Federation, and Functional Movement Systems. He is certified by the state board of educator certification in Texas in health grades (EC-12) and secondary physical education (6-12).

Co Authors: Willie J. Black, Jr.

Willie J. Black, Jr., Ed.D.
School Administrator
San Antonio
278 Iron Kettle
Universal City, Texas 78148
Phone: (512)-557-2905
drwillieblack@gmail.com

Willie J. Black, Jr. has a Masters of Education in Physical Education and a Bachelor’s in Exercise and Sports Science. He worked for ten years as a personal trainer, certified through the International Sports Science Association, and coached public school athletics at the secondary level for seven years. He also has a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, and serves as an adjunct professor for the department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Texas in San Antonio. He is currently an administrator for the Judson Independent School District, and previously served as Director of Human Resources.

Social Support and Democratic Behavior Styles of Leadership Preferred by Female Athletes in Middle School Athletic Programs

ABSTRACT
The purpose of this study was to determine alleged behavior styles of leadership female student athletes in middle school athletic programs prefer coaches use in the treatment and interactions with their female athletes. This study compared female student athletes’ perception of their coach’s behavior style of leadership at three different middle schools to determine if the perceived behavior style of leadership is comparable amongst female coaches at the respective middle schools in this study.

Results of an earlier study entitled “Preferred Behaviors Used by Coaches in Female Middle School Athletic Programs”, detected a statistically significant difference in the behavior styles of leadership perceived by female student athletes at the respective middle schools in the following dimensions. 1) democratic and training instruction, (2) autocratic and training instruction, (3) social support and training instruction, (4) positive feedback and democratic, (5) positive feedback and autocratic, (6) positive feedback and social support. The results of this study did not detect a statistically significant difference between (1) positive feedback, training instruction, (2) autocratic and democratic, (3) social support and democratic, (4) social support and autocratic. Data composed from this study was based on female student athlete’s perception of the behavior style of leadership used by their coaches. The results revealed a high mean score for the social support behavior style of leadership compared to autocratic, democratic, positive feedback, training instruction. The results of the data in this study can conclude the social support behavior style of leadership is the behavior styles used by coaches at the respective middle schools in this study. However, the data also reveals a high mean score for the democratic behavior style of leadership used by coaches at the respective middle schools for this study. Based on the results of the data for this study, we can conclude the social support and democratic behavior style of leadership are the behavior styles of leadership used by coaches at the respective middle schools in this study. What follows is the basis for this study, procedures used to conduct the research, an analysis of the data, conclusions, application in sport, and finally, recommendations for further research on this topic.

Keywords: coaching, coaching climate, female athletes, female coaches, middle school athletic programs.

INTRODUCTION
The researcher’s purpose for selecting this topic is previous studies on the behavior styles of leadership used by coaches have been conducted at the collegiate level by comparing male and female athletes. The behavior style of leadership displayed by coaches at the collegiate level regardless of gender are different compared to middle school athletic programs based on different goals of the athletic programs. The researcher’s explains with the passing of the Title IX of 1972 Education Amendment Act, we have seen an increase female sports participation at all levels. The researcher’s describes female middle school athletic programs as significant for the physiological and psychological development of the female athlete. (1), state female athletes of all ages are healthier, more academically successful, and have higher self-esteem than non-athletes. Several female athletes participating in middle school athletic program will be experiencing organized sports for the first time. This decision to participate could be based on a close relationship or emotional attachment to a female friend already in the athletic program or who wants to participate. (10), states female-female friendships are more confiding, intimate and emotionally expressive than male to male therefore the female to female relationships are characterized by emotionality. Because of this, female coaches and athletes may be more likely to form highly interdependent and emotionally laden relationships in the athletic realm.

Female student athletes participating in middle school athletic programs can be coached by male or female coaches, each coach irrespective of gender will bring a different behavior style of leadership to the athletic program. This behavior style of leadership will be implemented to execute discipline, administer strict rules and policies to achieve the goals of the athletic program. This behavior style of leadership used by the coach can be contributed to the coaches’ personality and upbringing. (4) suggest that along with ability and experience, personality has a strong influence on leader behavior. Coaches need to understand leadership is very important in sport. Research studies by (11), state male and female athletes share many attributes such as the desire to win, willingness to sacrifice time and energy, and enjoyment of competition, and athletes need to be coached differently. This supports studies by (6) conclude there is a difference between men and woman in intellectual functioning, base reaction, innate interest, survival strategy, and mental preferences. When coaching females, there is a need for warmth, empathy, and a sense of humor with the players (2). Research studies conducted on the topic of leadership and coaching refer coaches to leaders (7, 13, 8, 12, and 5). Leadership provided by the coach plays a very significant role in the lives of athletes and in the athlete’s sport experience (19). (10) states females are more relational and personal in their communication styles, while males tend to be more assertive and direct. Female coaches are known for providing more support, and empathy in their athletes personal lives and creating a fun and enjoyable atmosphere for their student athletes. (15), reported female coaches to be more supportive and rewarding than male coaches. This studies supports research by (16), which states female-female relationships are more confiding, intimate and emotionally expressive than male to male therefore the female relationships are characterized by emotionality. Studies in leadership conclude males are more direct, dominant and emotionally stable, which could contribute to male coaches adapting the autocratic behavior style of leadership. Coaches should refrain using the autocratic behavior style of leadership in their athletic programs. (17) states athletes in adverse environments may develop negative self-concepts, emotional and/or physical exhaustion, psychological withdraw, and feeling of devaluation. (18), states females prefer more democratic coaching behaviors and a participatory coaching style that allows them to help make decisions. Coaches who operate under a cooperative, or democratic style, work with their athletes to help make appropriate decisions and set their own goals, which follows that athletes are first, and winning is second. The democratic behavior style of leadership also gives athletes the opportunity to be involved the decision-making process of the goals of the organization.

The social support behavior style of leadership is a behavior that helps athletes with personal problems; making sport part of enjoyment of an athlete’s life. (14), found female athletes were more inclined to disclose personal information to a female coach. Female coaches are known for providing more support, and empathy in their athletes’ personal lives and creating a fun and enjoyable atmosphere for their student athletes. (15), these researcher’s reported female coaches to be more supportive and rewarding than male coaches. The researcher’s will be conducting a study “Social Support and Democratic Behavior Styles of Leadership Preferred by Female Athletes in Middle School Athletic Programs” this study will examine the perceived behavior style of leadership used by coaches in male middle school athletic programs.

Subjects
Subjects for this study were 154 female student athletes who participated in middle school athletics throughout their 7th and 8th grade year at the same middle school. The age ranges for these female student athletes was 12-15. The researcher’s purpose for not including incoming 7th graders or those new to the athletic program is they could not give a clear and accurate assessment of the perceived behavior style of leadership used by their coach. The schools selected for this study were three different middle schools from Central Texas, which include Bastrop, Cedar Creek, and Elgin middle schools.

Methods
Data for this study was collected using the Leadership Scale of Sports (LSS) questionnaire with the permission of Dr. Packianthan Chelladurai Ph.D. at Ohio State University. The questionnaire measures an athlete’s perception of their coach’s behavior style of leadership and consists of forty items that begin with “My Coach.” These forty items represent five dimensions of leadership behavior in sports and operationally defined in (4). The scoring of the Leadership Scale of Sports questionnaire was based on an ordinal scale, five-category scale that consists of a numerical number: 1. Always; 2. Often (about 75 % of the time); 3. Occasionally (50% of the time); 4. Seldom (about 25% of the time); 5 Never. Each of the forty items on the Leadership Scale of Sports questionnaire represents one of the five latent dimensions of leadership. These five dimensions were (1) autocratic behavior, (2) democratic behavior, (3) positive feedback, (4) social support, and (5) training and instruction. To facilitate clarity of content for each item for the subject, the five listings of leadership were displayed across the page specific to the stem of each item with the number that represents the style of leadership listed under that category the male student athletes who are completing this questionnaire do not know which question represents what dimension of leadership.

Middle School Athletic coordinators at each middle school were given verbal directions in person prior to the questionnaires being mailed. The data was analyzed quantitatively using the 15.0 version of Statistical Package for Social Sciences. Several statistical tests were used to analyze the data. The Freidman test is a test used for two-way repeated measures analysis of variance by ranks. This test was used to determine the statistically significant difference based on gender among the three middle schools in at least one of the five dimensions of leadership behavior. The Wilcoxon signed-rank test is a non-parametric statistical hypothesis test used for two related samples or repeated measures on a single sample. To determine the location of the difference, a series of Wilcoxon signed-ranks tests using the Bonferroni adjustment to the p-value were administered. Because there are ten comparisons to be measured, 0.05 was divided 10, rendering a new p-value of 0.005 The Kruskal-Wallis test is the non-analog test, an ANOVA; this test was used to compare three or more medians among schools based on gender. For this study the data collected was used by the researcher’s to compare female student athletes at the three respective middle schools.

The results of the Friedman Test show the mean ranks of the behavior styles of leadership in this study. The social support behavior style of leadership ranks the highest amongst females at the middle schools for this study with a 3.58, and the democratic behavior style of leadership is also shows a high mean score for the democratic behavior style of leadership with a 3.54.

RESULTS

Table 1: Mean Rank Behavior Styles of Leadership for Females
Table 1

When we look at the descriptive means table for female athletes at the three middle schools for this study we see that the democratic behavior style of leadership has a mean score of 2.88 and the social support behavior of leadership has a mean score of 2.87.

Table 2: Descriptive Statistics for Behavior Styles of Leadership for Females
Descriptive Statistics
Table 2

The results of the Friedman test show in the female group there was a statistically significant difference in at least one of the five LSS dimensions. We need to perform a series of pairwise comparisons to pinpoint where the differences lie by performing a series of Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test using a Bonferroni adjustment to the p-value. Because we made 10 comparisons we need to divide 0.05/10 = 0.005. Our new p-value then is .005.

Table 3: Test Results for Comparisons of Behavior Styles of Leadership for Females
Table 3
a. Based on negative ranks.
b. Based on positive ranks.
c. Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test

Based on the results of the Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test we see that there is statistically significant difference at the 0.005 level between the (1) democratic, training instruction, (2) autocratic, training instruction, (3) social support, training instruction, (4) positive feedback, democratic, (5) positive feedback, autocratic, (6) positive feedback, social support. The results did not detect a difference between (1) positive feedback, training instruction, (2) autocratic, democratic, (3) social support, democratic, (4) social support, autocratic.

CONCLUSIONS
The data in Table 1, and Table 2 show high means scores for the democratic and social support behavior styles of leadership among females at the three middle schools for this study. The researcher’s will discuss the statistically significant differences among females between the dimensions associated with the democratic and social support behavior styles of leadership, 1) democratic, training instruction, (2) social support, training instruction, (3) positive feedback, democratic behavior, (4) positive feedback, social support. The first statistically significant difference among females at the respective middle schools occurred between the dimensions of democratic behavior and training instruction (see Table 1). The results of the Freidman test show a mean rank score of 2.24 for the training and instruction behavior style of leadership and a score of 3.54 for the democratic behavior style of leadership among females at the respective middle schools for this study (see Table 1). The data reveals female coaches at the three middle schools for this study place more emphasis in the democratic behavior style of leadership compared to training and instruction. The second statistically significant difference between females occurred between the dimensions of social support and training and instruction (see Table 1). The results of the Freidman test show a mean rank score of 3.58 for social support and a mean score of 2.24 for training and instruction behavior styles of leadership (see Table 1). The data reveals female coaches at the respective middle schools place more emphasis in the social support behavior style of leadership compared to the training and instruction behavior style of leadership. instruction. The third statistically significant difference among females at the respective middle schools occurred between the dimensions of positive feedback and democratic behavior. The results of the Freidman test show a mean rank score of 2.20 for the positive feedback behavior style of leadership and a score of 3.54 for the democratic behavior style of leadership among females at the respective middle schools for this study (see Table 1). The data reveals female coaches at the three middle schools for this study place more emphasis in the democratic behavior style of leadership compared to positive feedback. The fourth statistically significant difference among females at the respective middle schools occurred between the dimensions of positive feedback and social support. The results of the Freidman test show a mean rank score of 2.20 for the positive behavior style of leadership and a score of 3.58 for the social support style of leadership among females at the respective middle schools for this study (see Table 1). The results of the Freidman Test in Table 1 clearly show female coaches at the three middle schools for this study place more emphasis in the social support and democratic behavior styles of leadership compared to the training and instruction, autocratic, social support, and positive feedback behavior styles of leadership. The descriptive statistics in Table 2 display the democratic behavior style of leadership among the female coaches at the three-middle school is highly favored.

The researcher’s explains the results of the data as female student’s athletes’ perception of the behavior styles of leadership used by their coaches at the respective middle schools for this study. Based on the data of this study, we can conclude the social support and the democratic behavior styles of leadership are the behavior styles of leadership used by coaches at the respective middle schools in their daily treatment, and interaction with their female student athletes. The researcher’s explain the democratic and social support behavior styles of leadership as developing a culture of giving athletes an opportunity to express their opinions, and ideas regarding the decisions in the athletic program. This will create a culture that places a strong emphasis in the welfare of their athletes, develops positive relationships, and creates an atmosphere that places the physiological and psychological development of the athletes over winning. (3), state if a coach adapts his or her behavior to comply with the athletes preferred behavior, the athlete may be more readily inclined to repay the coach through an improved performance. The researcher’s point out this study did detect six statistically significant differences in the five dimensions of behavior styles of leadership (see Table 3). This study did show one behavior style of leadership superior to another in this research. However, the study did show based on the mean ranks scores of the Freidman Test in Table 1 and the descriptive means in Table 2 the social support and democratic behavior style of leadership are the perceived behavior styles of leadership used by the coaches at the three middle schools for this study. Based on the results of the data presented in this study, we can conclude coaches at the respective middle schools in this study use the social support and democratic behavior style of leadership in the daily treatment and interactions with their female athletes.

APPLICATION IN SPORT
The author of this study makes the following recommendations for further research. First, further research studies need to be conducted on the behavior styles of leadership used based on the gender of the coach. The second recommendation would be to educate coaches on the different behavior styles of leaderships and have them implement these into their athletic programs. Once the student athletes have an understanding and have experienced these behavior styles of leadership conduct a study towards the end of the year. The third recommendation would be to conduct a study on the behavior style of leadership used by the coach in the athletic program and determine if these behavior styles of leadership will have a negative or positive effect in the way athletes interact with their teacher and other students. Researcher’s should pursue additional studies on this topic and coaches should consider this and similar studies to improve their interaction with athletes in middle school athletic programs.

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