Footballers respond better to Special Ones
Dr Manley asked 136 footballers (aged 18-22 and playing at amateur or semi-professional level) to read one of three accounts of a coach before watching a video of him at work - the accounts described him as either successful, unsuccessful or having no reputation. After watching the video, the footballers were asked to rate the coach's competence and also their emotional response to him.
Dr Manley found that participants who had been told the coach had a successful reputation rated him significantly higher than did the participants who had been told he had an unsuccessful reputation. They also found that coaches with an unsuccessful reputation were rated as significantly less able to teach football-specific skills than coaches with no reputation.
Two weeks later, the footballers' emotional response to the coach and their levels of 'need for cognition' (i.e. their motivation to think and solve problems) were assessed - 62 of the original participants took part in this second part of the study.
Dr Manley found that the footballers had a significantly warmer emotional response to the successful coach than to the unsuccessful one, but only when the footballers displayed lower levels of need for cognition.
Dr Manley says: "These findings show that a coach's reputation can influence footballers' beliefs about his competence. This, together with the players' motivation to think, may influence the development of the emotional or affective bond between player and coach. So these results imply that coaches may be able to initiate effective relationships with their athletes by emphasising their previous reputation".
Dr Manley will be presenting the research to the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society in Harrogate on Tuesday 9 April.