Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Education

First Advisor

Lori A. Wolff

Second Advisor

Linda F. Chitwood

Third Advisor

John Holleman

Relational Format



This concurrent, embedded mixed methods study used predominantly quantitative analyses to examine coach expectations and behaviors on female athletes' intrinsic motivation to play softball. Qualitative methods in the form of structured, open-ended questions were used to enhance the data by examining athletes' perceptions of coaching behavior and changes in motivation and competence levels. A cluster sampling technique was used to randomly select 20 Division I softball teams competing in the United States. The resulting quantitative participant sample included 174 female collegiate athletes ranging in age from 18-22 years old, and 20 male and female head coach participants ranging in age from 24-60 plus years. Qualitative procedures involved inductive content analysis of interview responses from 41 female collegiate softball athletes. A structured interview protocol was folloto answer the research questions of how do female athletes' perceive head coaches affect intrinsic motivation to play softball for their current team, and specifically, what types of coaching behaviors do athletes perceive to alter their motivation to play softball? Results of this study indicate coaches do form expectations about athletes' performance ability, and coaching behaviors differed between expectancy groups. Competence and motivation levels remained constant over the course of the study, but expectancy groups were motivated differently. Low expectancy athletes were more extrinsically motivated, and shotrends of higher levels of amotivation than high and average expectancy athletes. High expectancy athletes shotrends indicating more intrinsic motivation overall. Low expectancy athletes perceived more ignoring, or non-rewarding, behaviors than other athletes. Athletes experienced a decrease in encouragement and corrective instruction from pre- to post-study. Overall, athletes reported aspects of the perceived coach-athlete relationship affected competence and motivation the most. Relationships characterized by open, direct, clear communication were the biggest positive influence on motivation and competence. Other coach strategies including emphasis of athlete's personal best, actions display confidence in the athlete's performance ability, and encouragement after performance attempts emerged as important factors enhancing athlete self-perception variables. Relationships characterized by unclear or no communication had the biggest negative influence on motivation and competence.



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