Date of Conferral







Susana Verdinelli



Youth sports have been shown to be beneficial to the overall development of children and adolescents. Research showed youth sports participation helps children develop academically, physically, and mentally. However, there is a high attrition rate of youth sports participants.

What coaches think about youth's attrition in sports and their role in fostering or hindering young athletes' participation is not well known. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore youth coaches' perception of their role in a young person's decision to continue participating in their sport of preference. The conceptualizations of autonomy-supportive coaching strategy and Erickson's developmental theory were used as the theoretical basis for this study. Twelve youth coaches were interviewed using semistructured interviews. Data were analyzed using Moustakas' modification of Van Kaam's method of analysis. Six major themes emerged from the data: (a) sports are about having fun, (b) developing life skills, (c) coaching philosophy, (d) reasons kids quit sports, (e) good coaches keep kids engaged in sports, and (f) winning and losing. Results indicated that youth coaches believe they play a significant role in keeping kids engaged in sports. They emphasized the importance of having fun in playing sports; and they deemphasized the importance of winning as a major outcome. This study has the potential to promote a better environment for young participants by exposing the contributing factors leading to the attrition rate in youth sports. Results of this study inform coaches, parents, and administrators about the needs of the children in their sports programs.