Using data from masters athletes and their coaches to question the merit of assessing congruency as a theoretical tenet of coaching models


Congruence (i.e., similarity between athlete and coach perceptions) is a foundational construct within cognitively mediated coaching models (e.g., Multidimensional Model of Leadership; Chelladurai, 1978, Mediational Model of Leadership; Smoll et al., 1978). However, few studies have tested the merits of assessing congruence and whether it is theoretically valid. Using paired data from Masters athletes (MAs) and coaches, we explored if, and how, congruency affects the relationship between coach behaviours and athlete outcomes. In total, 177 MAs (Mage = 52.2, SD = 11.5; 67.8% female, 32.2% male) and 41 coaches (Mage = 48.6, SD = 17.1; 56.1% female, 43.9% male) completed the Adult-Oriented Sport Coaching Survey (Rathwell et al., 2020) to assess coaching behaviours appropriate for adult athlete populations. Additionally, athletes completed the Coach-Athlete Relationship Questionnaire (Jowett & Ntoumanis, 2004), Basic Needs Satisfaction in Sport Scale (Ng et al., 2011), Psychological Needs Thwarting Scale (Bartholomew et al., 2011) and questions assessing practice-liking, sport commitment, investment and enjoyment. Path analyses tested if congruency was related to athlete outcomes. Results showed it was (explained seven of 15 outcomes). Hierarchical regression tested whether congruency added to our understanding of athlete outcomes beyond knowing coaching behaviours. Results showed it did not (0-5% additional variance explained). Mediation analyses tested if the relationship between coach behaviours and athlete outcomes was dependent on congruency. Results showed that in general, it did not (only mediated relationship between coach behaviours and commitment). Taken together, these results contradict the theorizing of several cognitive mediated coaching models.