The prediction of young athletes’ physical self from perceptions of relationships with parents and coaches

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Purpose:Based on the premise that relationships are closely associated with people's self-concept (Hinde, Finkenauer, & Auhagen, 2001), the present study aimed to investigate whether young athletes’ descriptions of physical self are predicted by perceptions of the relationship quality with their coaches and parents separately and together.Method:Adolescent and young adult athletes (N = 173) completed self-report instruments that measure perceptions of both the quality of the coach–athlete and parent–child/athlete relationships, as well as dimensions of physical self.Results:Hierarchical regression analyses demonstrated that: (a) higher levels of perceptions of physical self in terms of skill development, body shape, physiological competence, mental competence and overall performance were predicted by the significance athletes’ assigned to the depth of the relationship with the coach but not the parent; (b) lower levels of perceptions of physical self in terms of physiological competence and overall performance were predicted by conflict in the coach–athlete relationship; and (c) the association of skill development and body shape with conflict in the coaching relationship was positive when parental conflict was low but negative when parental conflict was high.Conclusion:Overall, the findings of this study suggest that athletes’ relationship quality with the coach can more strongly influence the various dimensions of the physical self than their relationship quality with the parent. However, when conflict is present in both the coach–athlete and the parent–child/athlete relationship athletes’ physical self-concept is inversely affected by feeling less physically skilful and athletically looking.

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