Examining the impact of COVID-19 on sport coaches


To-date, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on athletes' experiences has been examined, however, there remains a lack of attention examining the impact of the pandemic on coaches. The purpose of this study therefore was to examine Ontario sport coaches' perspectives of the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on their experiences. As part of a large-scale survey of Ontario coaches' experiences in sport, an open-ended question was asked regarding the implications of COVID-19 on the coaching population. In total, 591 participant responses were analyzed using thematic analysis. According to participants, most of the cited outcomes of COVID-19 were negative, although some positive aspects were cited. Negative outcomes of the pandemic included adapting coaching methods and practices, insufficient coach supports, declines in coaching confidence and skills, lack of meaningful interpersonal connections, mental health concerns, job and financial instability, unclear guidelines on safe returns to sport, and loss of athletes and athletic programs. Conversely, positive impacts included providing time to reflect on their coaching pursuits and alternative interests and to engage in professional development. These findings highlight the importance of understanding coaches' experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and may be used to inform recommendations for supporting coaches post-COVID.

Acknowledgments: The authors would like to thank the coaches who participated in this study along with Coaches Association of Ontario who contributed to the design and recruitment of this study. The authors would also like to acknowledge Alexia Tam for her assistance with survey development and data collection.