Mother-Coaches in Youth Sport

A colleague and I, Dr. Sarah Leberman from Massey University in New Zealand, now have an article in press in the Journal of Sport Management titled “Juggling Balls and Roles, Working Mother-Coaches in Youth Sport: Beyond the Dualistic Worker-Mother Identity.”

Focusing on the mother-worker duality is limiting and provides an incomplete picture of women‘s social roles, therefore we used a role triad framework of the worker-mother-coach which draws attention to the existence of a “third shift” for some women.

The abstract for this piece is below:

ABSTRACT: Despite the ubiquitous presence of mothers in sport contexts, mothers‘ voices are often absent in the sport literature, particularly at the youth sport level. A phenomenological approach was used to explore the experiences of working mother volunteer youth sport coaches. A role-triad model based on the work-family enrichment and role enhancement literature provided the theoretical framework. The purpose was to understand how and why working mother-coaches mange this role triad and to identify mother-worker skills which may transfer to youth coaching and vice versa. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight working mother-coaches and analyzed for themes. Findings suggest that notions of being a good mother and reasons for coaching are very similar, including spending time together, developing life skills and role modeling. Participants negotiated multiple roles using cognitive tools, such as reframing and separation of roles. The reciprocal benefits of motherhood, working and coaching for themselves and others were highlighted.

Dr. Leberman and I completed this research when she was a visiting Fulbright Senior Scholar in the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport.

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