Development Environment and Destructive Leadership in Sports


Development Environment and Destructive Leadership in Sports

Students doing physical exercise. Photo.
Photo: Elin Iversen/NTNU

About the project

About the project

The project Development Environment and Destructive Leadership in Sports consists of 2 sub-projects:

  1. Development environments in youth sports
  2. Destructive leadership in sports.

Both sub-projects will carry out data collection in the autumn of 2021 / spring of 2022.


1. Development Environments in Youth Sports

The subproject mainly deals with two topics: talent development environment and «risk culture» in youth sports. The two themes are described below.

Talent development environment

In the last 10 years, the focus within skills and performance development has gone from a focus on practitioner characteristics to the importance of the development environment the practitioners are part of (Baker et al., 2017). Both qualitative and quantitative research have been used to identify characteristics of successful talent development environments. The research shows that both the qualitative environmental success factors (ESF) (Henriksen et al 2010) and the qualitative in the form of talent development environment questionnaire (TDEQ) have common features. The ESF found the following characteristics that are similar to TDEQ (TDEQ dimensions in parentheses) long-term development instead of short-term success (TDEQ long-term development focus), support for sporting goals of the larger environment (TDEQ -adjustment of expectations / support networks), opportunities for inclusion in a supportive learning community / role models (TDEQ communication), and the integration of efforts between sports, school, family and other components in the environment (TDEQ holistic quality preparation) (Aalberg et al 2016, Flatgård et al 2020, Larsen et al 2020, Gangsø et al 2021 ). Although a Norwegian version of TDEQ exists, this questionnaire has not been validated in a Norwegian context and the purpose of this subproject is to investigate the psychometric quality of TDEQ.

“Risk culture”

According to Weinberg et al. (2013) then athletes who want to play sports at a high level should accept pain and injury as an inevitable consequence. This understanding is today so strongly implemented in sports culture that one can look at it as a normative behavior (Kabiri et al., 2021). Such a "risk culture" will potentially lead to young talented athletes training and competing with pain and / or despite being mentally tired (pain / tired). This can be seen in connection with stress injuries and burnout in sports, which are current challenges among young talented athletes in the transition from junior to senior (Aasheim, Stavenes, Andersson, Engbretsen & Clarsen, 2018; Barh, 2014). We know little about athletes 'description of "risk culture" in Norwegian youth sports, such as athletes' attitudes to training and competing with pain and / or when one is mentally tired, attitudes to communicating pain and / or that one is mentally tired of their coaches (and teammates), as well as attitudes to the use of painkillers in connection with. training and / or competition. Therefore, in this project we want to describe these experiences and attitudes, as well as see how they are related to the degree of stress injuries and burnout. In addition, we will see how the experiences and attitudes are related to gender, skill level, the athlete's relationship to the coach, etc., as well as how it is across different sports.

2. Destructive Leadership 

In general, much of the research on the coaching role has naturally focused on positive coaching behavior and to a lesser extent on negative coaching behavior (Høigaard & Giske, 2019). In a qualitative study by Sigvartsen (2021), however, various aspects of destructive coaching behavior are highlighted and not least what unfortunate consequences such behavior can have. However, we do not currently have a good overview of the extent of such coaching behavior, nor do we have reliable knowledge of how it affects athletes and teams. One reason for this may be that one lacks a valid and reliable sports-specific destructive leadership scale. Based on the results of the Sigvaldsen (2021) study, the purpose of this project is to develop a sport-specific destructive leadership scale with good psychometric quality. In that work, the focus group interview and expert panel will be a necessary first step and is planned to be completed in 2021. Once the questionnaire has been developed, the psychometric quality of the questionnaire will be explored (step 2). Step two is planned to be completed as a new project in 2022.