Playing-time selection communication: Perspectives of collegiate team-sport athletes


In the pursuit of excellence (e.g., collegiate, professional sport), coaches select athletes to represent the team for a particular competition and communicate their selection prior to the event. The exchange of information often elicits negative affective, behavioural, and cognitive outcomes in athletes. Playing time selection is a prevalent aspect of team sport, yet the communication of playing time selection has been understudied. The purpose of this study is to understand how collegiate athletes are interpreting coaches' communication of playing time selection, as well as explore the outcomes resulting from the selection process. Six female and three male NCAA team sport athletes participated in semi-structured interviews, which ranged from 30-90 minutes in length. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed thematically. Results revealed that playing time selection communication is a multifaceted, complex process between the athlete and the coach. This process relies on forms of implicit and explicit communication to indicate a players' chances of receiving playing time. Coaches' playing time selection communication incurs unique responses from athletes, which are dependent on two factors: the communication of selection decisions, and the perception of the selection decision itself. Athletes reported feeling frustration and stress, but also understood the difficulty associated with the coaches' responsibility to communicate and assign playing time. The findings yield important practical applications for athletes, coaches, and MPCs. Future research directions will be discussed.