No Coach, No Maximum Gain: The central role of the coach in the deliberate personal development of youth performance athletes

Sergio Lara-Bercial, Jim McKenna


This study aimed to understand the role of the coach in the personal development of young athletes in a performance setting. Three major mechanisms were identified: high expectations and demands; genuine care; and the transformational coach. The study corroborates that, in addition to the coach, the performance environment also contains features that may lead to organic or incidental positive and negative development. In this regard, it is suggested that the current debate around whether development must be explicitly or implicitly sought could be progressed by the inclusion of the overarching term ‘deliberate’. Personal development in sport may happen explicitly or implicitly, yet the evidence presented in this paper suggests that coaches should be deliberate in their attempts to foster it.


Personal development, positive youth development, life-skills development, psychosocial development, youth sport, grassroots sport, youth coach.

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