Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences ETDs


Seth Jenny

Publication Date



A coaching philosophy is a set of basic principles or values framework that guide a coach in decision-making and behavior (Hogg, 1995). Opposite of a dictatorial philosophy, the humanistic coaching philosophy as an athlete-centered, collaborative, and non-manipulative process between athlete and coach, taking into account individual athlete differences and abilities, with the hopes of eventually developing an emancipated, self-regulated, adaptable, and self-confident athlete (Lyle, 1999). The goal of this case study was to explore the coaching philosophy and methods of a successful mens NCAA distance running coach and describe to what extent the stated coaching philosophy and coaching methods of the coach are humanistic. Through coach interviews, athlete interviews, training session observations, and artifact collection, this research explored whether coaching practice was congruent with the stated coaching philosophy and triangulated the qualitative data in regards to the extent in which it did or did not parallel the humanistic coaching philosophy. Three major themes emerged: 1) coach/athlete interpersonal communication and relationships, 2) coach/athlete decision-making, and 3) the coach's definition of success. The findings of this study indicated that the coach's stated philosophy and methods were humanistic in regards to having close interpersonal coach/athlete relationships, open communication, collaborative decision-making with athletes, and an athlete-centered process-oriented definition of success, but were not humanistic in relation to communicating more with the best (i.e., top eight) runners on the team and employing dictatorial methods in planning interval and tempo workouts independent from athletes. Major implications from these findings include that in areas where coaches are authoritative, athletes may not develop feelings of competence which could impact athletes' abilities to self-regulate independently from the coach. Moreover, coaches should make a concerted effort to build interpersonal relationships and communicate more with athletes new to their program, particularly freshmen and athletes making the leap from high school to college athletics.'


Humanism, Humanistic, Coaching, Distance Running, NCAA, Coaching Philosophy, Cross Country

Document Type




Degree Name

Physical Education, Sports and Exercise Science

Level of Degree


Department Name

Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Tingstrom, Catherine

Second Committee Member

Cleary, Michael

Third Committee Member

Martinez, Alfredo

Fourth Committee Member

Hushman, Glenn