Horn, T. S. (1985). Coaches' feedback and changes in children's perceptions of their physical competence. Journal of Educational Psychology, 77, 174-186.

The relationship between coaches' feedback, and changes in female athletes' self-perceptions of competence over an athletic season, was observed. Observations of game and practice behaviors of five interscholastic softball coaches and pre- and postseason assessments of their players' self-perceptions of competence (i.e., perceived competence, perceived performance control, and expectancy of success) were conducted.

Skill competence was the most significant factor that affected self-perceptions. Certain coaching behaviors were also influential in explaining changes in players' perceptions of competence. The frequency of nonreinforcement suggested an inverse relationship with competence perceptions. The extent of punishment received in response to a player's mistake was positively associated with the set of competence measures. The best description of the influential behaviors is that they were clear and consistent evaluations. Lower level players received much more positive coaching (often unrelated or inappropriate praise) than high level players. Coaches' behaviors during games were not related to perceived competence. It is likely these findings are gender and age specific.

In general, these results reinforce the notion that feedback given by adults in response to children's achievement performance has an effect on children's perceptions of their abilities.

Implications. Children's self-perceptions of competence are affected by actual ability/performance and coaching behaviors. To have the best effect, coaching behaviors should provide very frequent reinforcement for relevant sporting behaviors, provide contingent punishment when appropriate, and be clearly transmitted and consistent.

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