Pressure, Stress, and Coping

Exploring the Professional Demands of NCAA Division I Coaching



coaching, stress, coping strategies, collegiate athletics, NCAA Division I


Research suggests that the position of a collegiate sport coach is a performance position. It has been documented that an immense amount of stress comes with coaching, and common stressors reported relate to team performance and work-life balance, however a gap in the literature exists in understanding the factors that cause stress when considering coaching as a high-stress profession. This study aimed to understand the job-related stressors experienced by NCAA Division I head and assistant coaches. Twenty-two participants, including 12 head and 10 assistant coaches at three mid-major NCAA Division I universities, participated in semi-structured interviews. Four main themes emerged: coaching responsibilities, performance expectations, uncontrollable situations in and out of competition, and coping strategies. Sources of stress reported by the majority of coaches related to feeling pressed for time and maintaining work-life balance, providing leadership and motivation to athletes, and producing successful outcomes of competitive seasons to maintain job security. Coping strategies were identified as methods to improve psychological and physical health as well as spending time with loved ones. This information may be used to develop psychological skills interventions to reduce the amount of stress experienced by both head and assistant coaches at the Division I collegiate level.


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