Exploring the mental health and well-being of community sport coaches


Coaches play a critical role in all levels of sport and physical activity, contributing to the development of athletes and sport organizations. In recent years, athlete mental health has received increased attention from sport researchers; however, coaches also experience multiple stressors that can impact their mental health and well-being. A small but growing body of research has sought to understand the factors that impact coach mental health, primarily in high performance contexts. This study addresses a key gap in the sport coaching literature by exploring the stressors, supports, and mental health and well-being of community sport coaches – a population that makes up a large portion of the overall coaching workforce but has been largely understudied. Nineteen community sport coaches from across Atlantic Canada participated in one-on-one semi-structured interviews. Interview data were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using thematic analysis. Results were presented in three higher order themes: mental health culture in sport, influences on coach mental health, and coping strategies and supports. Our findings suggest that community sport coaches experience a variety of stressors (e.g. interpersonal, personal, organizational) that can negatively affect their mental health. The impact of these stressors may be mitigated by supports (e.g. coping strategies, training and resources) for community sport coaches, as well as aspects of the role that positively influence coaches' mental health and well-being. Future research should focus on deepening our understanding of the unique factors that contribute to the mental health and well-being of individuals who coach in the community sport context.

Acknowledgments: This project was funded by the Mitacs Accelerate program and in partnership with the Canadian Sport Institute Atlantic