Term of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Health and Kinesiology

Committee Chair

Daniel Czech

Committee Member 1

Brandonn Harris

Committee Member 2

Samuel Todd

Committee Member 3

Glenn Burdette III

Committee Member 3 Email



Numerous researchers have examined preferred sport leadership behaviors from both the coach and athlete perspectives (Beam, Serwatka, & Wilson, 2004; Chelladurai, & Carron, 1983; Freakley, Czech, Harris, & Burdette, 2012; Turman, 2013; Weinburg, & Gould, 2010). However, there is limited research in student-athlete personality dispositions and how those might influence student-athlete perceptions of preferred leadership behaviors. The purpose of the present study was to examine views of leadership in light of certain personality dispositions. This research examined the potential influence of optimism (Abramson, et al, 2000) on qualitative descriptions of preferred leadership behaviors using the Revised Leadership Scale for Sport (Zhang, & Jensen, 1998) to structure the interview questions. 106 NCAA Division I student-athletes in a southeastern university completed the Life Orientation Test-Revised (LOT-R), the results of which were split into three groups: low optimists, middle optimists, and high optimists. The low and high groups of student-athletes were considered for the qualitative interview. There were several similarities between the two groups regarding instructive behavior, feedback behavior, relatability, coach traits, and situational actions, but there are also several differences between the two groups in how the student-athletes prefer their coach to approach them. These differences are highlighted best in the category Reactive Behaviors with the high optimistic theme Encourages implying preference for a coach to focus on present emotions in order to attain future success while the low optimistic theme Reassures Athlete of Ability implies the preference for a coach to focus on past successes in order to attain success in the present. The category Coach Orientation (relationship- v results/task-focused) was much more convoluted than expected following past research. All four categories and emergent themes are described in full. The results reveal a deep difference in individual student-athlete perspective according to optimism levels and potential future research in discussed further.