Coaching Life Skills through Sport

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The purpose of this research project was to better understand how a coach’s philosophy may affect the transferability of life skills onto their athletes. Effective coaches have been found to look beyond the idea of winning or losing and have applied their own experiences to develop coaching strategies that focus not only on personal development but also on imparting life skills. Life skills are defined in the literature as behavioral, cognitive, intrapersonal, or interpersonal skills that enable development in an individual and that can be transferred to non-sport settings. This study examined the relationship between a coach’s philosophy and personal experience and the subsequent strategies used by the coach to influence the development of life skills in their athletes. A qualitative analysis was conducted using in-depth, semi-structured interviews with five female coaches, six male coaches, and a corresponding athlete to each coach. Results of the research identified four common strategies used by the coaches to create life skill–building experiences for their athletes: relatability, personal connection, belief in the athlete’s potential, and creating a positive work environment grounded in shared values.