Female and Male Youth Sport Coaches’ Perceptions of Teaching Sportspersonship to Female and Male Athletes

Document Type


Publication Date



According to the positive youth development framework, sportspersonship and character development is an expected outcome from participation in youth sport. Previous studies have shown mixed results in terms of how gender affects young athletes’ sportspersonship, suggesting it is important to explore how boys and girls are taught about sportspersonship by their coaches. In this study, we interviewed six female and six male youth sport coaches who had coached both girls’ and boys’ teams at recreational and competitive levels to examine coaches’ expectations regarding sportspersonship, with a specific focus on those beliefs associated with gender. Our analysis indicated that gender does matter, as represented in the two emergent higher-order themes—(a) Observations of Athletes’ Sportspersonship Behaviors and (b) Teaching Sportspersonship to Girls and Boys—representative of two and four lower-order themes, respectively. Results showed that gender mattered in terms of coaches’ reported strategies for teaching about sportspersonship, suggesting that youth sport participation builds gendered character.