Gender and individual differences that affect young athletes' preferences for specific coaching behaviors
Previous researchers have reported gender differences regarding athletes' preferences for positive feedback, autocratic behavior and social support in coaches. The current study investigated other individual differences that may influence athletes' preferences. Self-perceived skill, athletic self-confidence, competitiveness, gender and behavior of coach and socioeconomic status were explored as possible predictors of preferences. Findings did not support gender differences among athletes for preferences for positive feedback or autocratic behavior; however, male athletes preferred more social support than female athletes. Male athletes also indicated that social support was associated with increased motivation and optimal performance. No additional individual differences among athletes were found to have a significant effect on athletes' preferences for coaching behaviors. The findings suggested that previously reported gender differences among athletes may be less important in determining what coaching strategies are most likely to motivate and encourage optimal performance and that coaches may benefit by addressing general preferences of athletes, regardless of gender.