Authors: E. Nicole McCluney, Bryan A. McCullick, Paul G. Schempp
Corresponding Author: Bryan A. McCullick, Ph. D.
355 Ramsey Center
Department of Kinesiology
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602
E. Nicole McCluney is a doctoral candidate at the University of Georgia. Bryan A. McCullick is a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Georgia. Paul G. Schempp is a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Georgia.
Factors Triggering Pressure on Basketball Coaches’ In-Game Decision-Making
High-stakes decision-making has been long studied in psychology and business, however, scholars have only recently begun to focus attention towards this type of decision-making in the coaching field. Coaches make a multitude of decisions many of which may be high-stakes (22), but there has yet to be an empirical investigation of coaches’ in-game decision-making under pressure. The purpose of this study was to determine which performance-related factors (stressors) create the greatest pressure (strain) on basketball coaches’ in-game decision-making. Male and female basketball coaches (N=205) with an average of 19.77 years’ experience were asked to separately rate 14 stressors based on whether it caused intense (1), moderate (2), or low (3) pressure on in-game decision making. Descriptive statistics were calculated to determine which stressors caused intense, moderate, and low pressure on coaches’ in-game decision making for the entire sample and based on gender, years of experience, current coaching position, educational level, gender of athletes coaching, and level of athletes coaching. Stressors rated as creating the most intense pressure on these coaches’ in-game decision-making were Expectations of Self, Importance of Eventual Outcome, and Quality of Preparation. The stressors rated as creating low pressure were Others’ Expectations, Venue, and Your Physical Well-Being. Coaching position, gender of coach, years of experience, and the gender of athletes coaching, all rated Expectations of Self, Quality of Preparation and Importance of Eventual Outcome as the stressors creating the most intense pressure. The level of athletes being coached yielded a minor difference as more high-school level coaches rated Amount of Preparation as creating intense pressure as opposed to college coaches who rated Importance of Eventual Outcome as creating intense pressure in their in-game decision-making. The results provide some of the first data regarding which factors create the most pressure on coaches’ in-game decision-making. Differences between high-school and college coaches may be indicative that the type of decision, whether high-stakes or not, significantly impacts the level of pressure experienced by coaches during competition. These data are important as they can provide guidance to researchers in how to design studies of coaches’ pressurized, in-game decision-making processes.