Defining Success within a “Successful” Men’s NCAA Division I Sport Program

Document Type


Publication Date



College of Arts and Sciences


Physical Education, Sport, and Human Performance


A coaching philosophy is a personal doctrine, or individual set of experiences and values, that guides a coach’s beliefs, actions, and coaching style (Huber, 2013). The humanistic coaching philosophy involves a collaborative coach/athlete process which considers individual athlete differences, abilities, and goals, with the long-term aim of developing a self-confident and selfregulated athlete (Lyle, 1999). Opposite of the traditional model where success is determined by wins or losses, within the humanistic approach winning is redefined so that the process is emphasized and achievement of individual athlete goals indicates success. Through coach interviews, athlete interviews, training session observations, and artifact collection, the aim of this case study was to explore the coaching philosophy and methods of a successful men’s NCAA Division I cross country coach and explore to what extent they are humanistic. Definition of success emerged as a primary theme where results indicated that while the participant coach was extrinsically motivated by outcome measures (i.e., winning NCAA national championships), his methods ascribed to the humanistic values of striving for individual athlete potential, holistic development, and self-actualization. Findings suggest that while the NCAA espouses to holistic development of the student-athlete, it is hard to separate athletic outcome measures as at least a portion of the definition of success for coaches working within this setting.


Published in “JTRM in Kinesiology” an online peer-reviewed research and practice journal - November 13, 2014