Triad Relationships and the Development of Junior Tennis Players

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Shimokawa, Raku (2022) Triad Relationships and the Development of Junior Tennis Players. Research Master thesis, Victoria University.


Introduction: Sport is a domain that can promote physical, psychological, social, and cognitive development in children. There are three main factors that can influence children’s developmental outcomes: distal ecological system (e.g., community, culture, policy), sport program design (e.g., personal and social life skill building activities), and positive youth development climate created by children’s relationships with peers (e.g., teammates), adults (e.g., coaching staff), and parents. A great number of studies have investigated the influences and processes of key relationships within youth sport. However, previous studies have usually investigated those relationships in dyads (e.g., coach-athlete relationship), and not in triads (e.g., athlete-coach-parent). To further our understanding of interpersonal relationships in youth sport and their impact on youth athlete development the key relationships should be investigated as triads. This approach would provide a holistic understanding of the relationships associated in youth sport. Research question and aim: This study was conducted based on research question: what is the nature of the athlete-parent-coach triad relationship in junior tennis? Accordingly, the aim of this study was to identify the themes and commonalities that characterise the nature of the triad relationship in junior tennis. Methodology: The current study employed a qualitative methodology and methods to collect and analyse the data. Interpretive Description was selected as the methodological orientation in designing the study, and the collection and analysis of data. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted to collect the data. Six competitive junior tennis players aged between 12-15, six parents, and seven coaches were invited to participate in the interview. All interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was employed to generate the common themes across interview data. Results: Three overarching themes were developed: communication, sacrifice, and boundaries, as well as, six themes specific to dyad relationships: fun, mentorship, creating a team, interactions at tournaments, tennis tips from the parent, and adjusting the involvement were identified. Conclusion: It appeared that maintaining open communication channels between each member of the triad is an important nature of the athlete-parent-coach triad relationship. Especially, non-tennis related coach-athlete communication subjects (e.g., hobbies) were identified to contribute in creating a fun climate within the coach-athlete relationship. Coaches and parents were found to establish boundaries between members of the triad to maintain appropriate closeness between the members. However, there was a gap in perceived closeness between the coach and athlete. Coaches appeared to maintain professional relationship with their players while players appeared to perceive their coach as a mentor. Coaches and parents were identified to make time and financial sacrifices in supporting the junior tennis player. The findings of current study can be included when educating sport coaches and parents regarding how to better manage relationships in youth sport.

Additional Information

Master of Applied Science

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 5201 Applied and developmental psychology
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Keywords youth, youth development, sport, interpersonal relationships, triads, athlete, coach, parent, tennis, communication, sacrifice, boundaries
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