Tykes and tots: Exploring and optimizing coaching effectiveness in preschooler sport

What is this project about?  

The past two decades have been met with increased enthusiasm for, availability of, and participation in organized sport programming among preschoolers (i.e., children aged 3-5 years). In an effort to ensure optimal experiences of preschool-aged children through organized sport programming, the overall aim of this research project is to advance understanding of ‘effective coaching’ for preschoolers, and to design, implement, and evaluate training tools to enhance coaches' effectiveness in preschooler sport. This project will take place through 3 key phases. Phase 1 will explore key stakeholders' perceptions of effective coaching within preschooler sport, in an effort to develop a more concrete understanding of effective coaching within preschooler-sport settings, and gain insight into appropriate developmental outcomes to target within preschooler sport. 

How will we go about doing this project?  

For the first phase of this study, participants will complete virtual semi-structured interviews with the project lead (lasting approximately 1 - 1.5 hours in duration), sharing their expertise and insights related to effective coaching in preschooler sport. 

Who can be involved? 

We are seeking approximately 20 preschooler sport coaches and 20 Ontario-based early childhood educators for the first phase of this study. Coaches who have a minimum of three years of experience working with preschool-aged children will be recruited to participate, while 20 early childhoood educators with at least 5 years experience in the field will also be recruited, given their expertise in how to plan and implement programs that promote preschool-aged children’s physical, emotional, and social development and well-being.  

What will be done with the research findings? 

Phase 1 research findings will be shared with study participants and used to inform the development and design of evidence-informed training tools to enhance effective coaching in preschooler sport (Phase 2); these are anticipated to take the form of online-trainings, workshops and/or other formats, based on coaches’ preference for continued coaching education, which will later be evaluated in Phase 3 of the study.  

What is the next step? 

Participant recruitment for Phase 1 of this project will begin in January of 2021, pending University ethics approval. We will then begin conducting interviews between February and August of 2021. 

Want to know more about this project?  

For more information, please feel free to contact the project lead/coordinator Dr. Meghan Harlow (mharlow2@yorku.ca) or Dr. Jessica Fraser-Thomas (jft@yorku.ca), Principal Investigator on the study.