Coaching Life Skills Through Sport

Rebecca Varney

Document Type Thesis


The purpose of my senior capstone project is to better understand how a coach’s philosophy may affect the transferability of life skills onto their athletes. Effective coaches have been found to look beyond the idea of winning or losing and have a propensity to develop coaching models based off of improving life skills within an athlete. Life skills are defined by the literature as behavioral, cognitive, intrapersonal or interpersonal skills that enable development in an individual and can be transferred to non-sport settings. There is a gap in the literature regarding which contextual factors, such as a coach’s years of experience, training facilities, or outside competition, are linked to the characteristics of a coach’s ability, as well as a coach’s philosophy, in imparting life skills to youth athletes. This study examined the impact of both a coach’s perceived role and expectations regarding how to effectively coach, and their coaching values/philosophy on influencing the development of life skills within their athletes. This data was collected through semi-constructed interviews with five female coaches and six male coaches, including a corresponding athlete to each coach. It was found through these interviews which life skills are perceived as most impactful to their athletes, both in sport and in life. Specific techniques coaches can use to influence their athletes in sport and beyond are recommended.