Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-22-2022


Sport coaches are among the most critical employees in the sport industry and regularly practice sport management activities including facilitating participation, managing athlete, organizing events, and promoting products and services. Interestingly, little is known about why individuals choose to pursue a career as a sports coach and how they might be acculturated into their profession. The general purpose of this study was to build on these works and to continue exploring the theorized elements of the process of acculturation within occupational socialization. To accomplish this, the specific purpose of this study was to explore and understand the perceptions and experiences of coaches that contributed to their acculturation.

Occupational socialization theory describes acculturation as the process as including initial attraction and personal attributes (Chatoups et al., 2007; Dodds et al., 1991), the apprenticeship of observation (Curtner-Smith, 2017; Lawson, 1983), and resource assessment (Lortie, 1975; Sage, 1989) as key elements leading to the formation of a subjective warrant and a decision to advance into formal training for the profession. The effects of acculturation permeate other forms of occupational socialization (Richards et al., 2014) and coach education research has demonstrated that coaches are largely resistant to university and theory-based training (Curtner-Smith, 1999; Cushion et al., 2003; Jones et al., 2002).

This study utilized a grounded theory approach to explore the process of eight new coaches in the sport of tennis. This sample included six male and two female participants who began coaching in various settings (clubs, colleges, and high schools) in the United States. Constant comparison was used throughout the data collection and analysis process to confirm reemerging themes and identify new areas of interest (Corbin & Strauss, 2015; Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Results, discussion, and conclusions are discussed herein.


Organizational Behavior, Sport Management, Career Motivation

Document Type




Degree Name

Physical Education, Sports and Exercise Science

Level of Degree


Department Name

Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

John C. Barnes

Second Committee Member

Karen Gaudreault

Third Committee Member

Edward Horne

Fourth Committee Member

Carolyn Hushman

Fifth Committee Member

Luke Mao