Understanding the coach-athlete relationship in sports for athletes with and without Intellectual Impairment through coaches’ voice: A qualitative inquiry

Kandianos Sakalidis, Anastasia Fadeeva, Florentina Hettinga, Fiona Chun Man Ling

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Introduction: Athletes' motivation, coaching practices and coaches' motivation are related and influence athletes' sports participation. However, these variables have rarely been studied in sports for athletes with Intellectual Impairment (II). This study aims to i) explore exercise motivation differences between athletes with and without II and investigate ii) coaching practices and motivation differences between their coaches.

Methods: Coaches who coach: i) athletes with II (n=11), ii) athletes without II (n=13) and iii) both groups (n=2) were involved in semi-structured interviews. Transcripts were analysed using an inductive thematic analysis, a method that allows authors to provide an analysis of patterns across the data set.

Results: Three themes were identified for the exercise motivation of athletes with II (Sport-related Progression, Social Interaction, Positive Emotions), two for their coaches’ motivation (Help others, Love the Sport) and five for the coaching practices towards athletes with II (Provide Sport Opportunities, Adapt their Behaviour, Develop Life skills, Build Rapport, Avoid Negative Consequences). Coaches of athletes without II reported extra themes about their athletes’
motivation (Health-related Reasons), their coaching motivation (Professional Development) and their coaching practices towards their athletes (Sport
Performance Progression).

Discussion: Despite the motivation of athletes with and without II to progress in their sport, only coaches of athletes without II focus on athletes’ sports performance progression. This could indicate that the coaching practices are influenced less by the motives of athletes with II. Moreover, coaches of athletes with II are coaching their sport for inherent reasons and adopt a mentor rather than a sport-coaching role.

Conclusions: In summary, the paper tried to shed some light on the appropriate coaching practice adaptations that are required to facilitate the sport participation of people with II.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEUCAPA 2022 Book of Abstracts
PublisherEuropean Federation of Adapted Physical Activity
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2022
EventEUCAPA 2022 – European Congress of Adapted Physical Activity 2022: Promoting inclusive sport & exercise opportunities for health and well-being - Coimbra, Portugal
Duration: 9 Jun 202211 Jun 2022

Publication series

NameEuropean Journal of Adapted Physical Activity
PublisherEuropean Federation of Adapted Physical Activity
ISSN (Electronic)1803-3857


ConferenceEUCAPA 2022 – European Congress of Adapted Physical Activity 2022
Internet address

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