Solomon, G. B., Striegel, D. A., Eliot, J. F., & Heon, S. N. (1996). The self-fulfilling prophecy in college basketball: Implications for effective coaching. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 8, 44-59.

College basketball coaches (N = 8) and players (N = 23) participated in a study that examined the relationship between the self-fulfilling prophecy and effective coaching. Variables analyzed were coach feedback, including differences between high- and low-expectancy players, and player perceptions of feedback. The Coaching Behavior Assessment System and J. L. Cole's (1979) Descriptive Analysis System were used to record coaching behavior during practices.

Head coaches offered more mistake-related feedback while assistant coaches offered more reinforcement and encouragement. Head coaches provided more of all types of feedback to high-expectancy athletes. Results from a 28-item questionnaire indicated that high-expectancy athletes perceived their coaches more positively than did low-expectancy athletes. Overall, the findings suggest that college routines may not parallel effective coaching techniques as defined by the self-fulfilling prophecy.

Implication. It is disturbing that head and assistant coaches react differently to players within the same team. Such a difference will divide loyalties and produce preferences for particular associations. Favoritism toward high-level performers is not new in sports but in college environments is cause for alarm.

It is regrettable that in institutions of higher learning such fundamental behavior errors as stressing mistakes, favoring some players over others, and performing different behaviors when part of the "same" coaching staff occur.

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