A novel study by a team of Canadian researchers has found that compared to parents, coaches have more influence on levels of adolescents’ on-ice aggression, as measured in penalty minutes.
What’s more, the study also found that the more coaches and parents endorsed aggression, the less likely players were to view them as leaders worthy of following. The study’s data also revealed that teams with high rates of aggression won fewer games.
The study, published in the journal Leadership Quarterly, looked at 183 players (average age 13) on 16 recreational hockey teams in Ontario. The researchers, from the University of Manitoba, the University of Regina and Queen’s University, measured teenagers’ perceptions of their coaches’ leadership and their own parents’ leadership. They measured players’ penalty minutes throughout the season while measuring team performance (percentage of games won).
“Although parents are not particularly influential in our study, I do not think the behaviour of some, like banging on the glass, is vindicated,” says Nick Turner, one of the study’s authors and the Associate Dean of the U of M’s Asper School of Business.
“What should really be taken away from this study is that we should really think carefully about the selection of team coaches and the messages that they send their teams.”
At the core of it, the study wanted to find out what motivates people to “do good” or “play well”. A coach’s leadership style, the study found, impacts the overall team-level aggression. Those who demonstrated a transformational leadership style had teams that enacted less aggression. Players then take their cue of what is expected of them from this dynamic; adhering to the personality of the team, if you will.
For more information contact Sean Moore, Public Affairs, University of Manitoba, 204-474-7963 (sean_moore @umanitoba.ca).