Sinclair, D. A., & Vealey, R. S. (1989). Effects of coaches' expectations and feedback on the self-perceptions of athletes. Journal of Sport Behavior, 12(2), 77-91.

Female field-hockey players (N = 41) from three Canadian provincial teams were assessed over a season of competition. Coaches' expectations about athletes' abilities, how those expectations affected the type of feedback provided, and the effects of those factors on athletes' perceived competence, self-esteem, and self-confidence were measured.

High expectancy athletes received more specific and evaluative feedback and less prescriptive feedback than low expectancy athletes. Self-confidence was the only self-perception to change over the course of the season. Gains in self-confidence were associated with the amount of immediate positive feedback provided by coaches.

Expectancy theory, often termed self-fulfilling prophecy, is concerned with how coaches' expectations affect their interactions with athletes and in turn how athletes' behaviors are influenced by the process. In sports a four step model has been proposed (Martinek, 1981).

This process can be positive, negative, or neutral.

[Martinek, T. (1981). Pygmalion in the gym: A model for the communication of teacher expectations in physical education. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 52, 58-67.]

Implication. How a coach habitually reacts toward an athlete will affect that athlete's perception of him/herself. Thus, it is essential that coaches react primarily in a positive manner toward athletes if those athletes are to continue participating fully in a sport.

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