The athletic triangle: perceptions of interpersonals issues with greek-cypriot coaches, athletes and parents

Por: Melina Timson-katchis e Sophia Jowett.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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The athletic triangle considers the involvement of the coach, athlete and parent as instrumental for the athletes’ development [1]. Research demonstrates the interpersonal dynamics involved in the athletic triangle and its impact on athletes’ physical and psychosocial growth [2,3].  For example, studies have shown that effective co-ordination of parental support and a collaborative relationship with a coach provide an optimal platform for an athlete’s development [4]. However a large number of studies to date are theoretically and methodologically constrained [5]. This study employs a relationship approach to the study of the athletic triangle by considering athletes’, coaches’ and parents’ perspectives.


The 3Cs (6) served as a rudimentary framework guiding the qualitative analytical procedures. Five coach-athlete-parent triads took part in the study; specifically five male swim coaches, five female adolescent swimmers and five significant parents. In-depth interviews were conducted by phone. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, translated into English and were content analysed.


Analysis indicated that coaches, athletes and parents alike are aware of interpersonal issues underlying the athletic triangle. Such issues included the need for trust and respect, a sense of commitment and co-ordination of behaviours by all relationship members so as to effectively meet the athlete’s dreams and aspirations. However, negative interpersonal issues were also present as relationship members referred to constraints and unmet needs. Differences in perceptions and lack of understanding lead to emotional isolation and incompatibility. Results also highlighted processes by which the parents influenced the coach-athlete relationship and consequently athlete success and development. These processes centred primarily around issues of support. Additional emergent themes indicated that both developmental and cultural issues were at play.

Discussion / Conclusions

The study revealed the intricacies involved in a complex yet very interdependent social system. The findings are consistent with previous research (7,8,9). The accumulated number of research studies in this area suggest that while parental input is instrumental, its extent and mode is an important issue for both coaches and athletes, moderated by individual differences, the stage of the coach-athlete relationship and cultural issues. Future research should be directed towards further exploring the processes of parental influence and more importantly addressing developmental and transitional issues that impact on the quality of the relationships.



[1]. Hellstedt J.C. (1987) TSP, Vol. 1, 151-160

[2]. Wylleman P. (2000) IJSP, Vol. 31, 555-572

[3]. Van Yperen N.W. (1998) IJSP, Vol. 29, 45-56

[4]. Bloom B.S (1985)  Developing Talent in Young People, New York, Ballantine Books

[5]. Vanden Auweele Y. & Rzewnicki R. (2000) IJSP, Vol. 31, 573-577

[6]. Jowett S. & Ntoumanis N. (2003) SJMSS, Vol. 13, 1-13

[7]. Stein G.L, Raedeke T.D. & Glenn S.D (1999) JSB, Vol. 22 (4), 591-601

[8]. Greenleaf C., Gould D. & Dieffenbach K. (2001) JASP, Vol. 13, 154-184

[9]. Lee M. & Maclean S. (1997) EJPE, Vol. 2, 167-177








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