The 'PAPA' Project: Delivering and testing Empowering Coaching™ in grassroots football across Europe
The aim of the Promoting Adolescents Physical Activity (PAPA) project (see www.projectpapa.org) was to customise and evaluate the Empowering Coaching™ education programme in the context of grassroots youth football. Empowering Coaching™ is an education programme that is informed by contemporary theories of motivation and behaviour change and was developed by Professor Joan Duda from the University of Birmingham. Empowering Coaching™ addresses a gap in existing coach education training as it focuses on helping coaches to maximise the motivational climate, so sport is more enjoyable and engaging for the athletes.
In the PAPA project, we recruited nearly 10,000 10-14 year old boys and girls participating in grassroots football from 5 European countries (England, France, Greece, Spain and Norway). The boys and girls and their coaches were allocated to the intervention or control group, and the former group involved the coaches attending the 6-hour Empowering Coaching™ workshop.
In the PAPA project, the Empowering Coaching™ workshop was delivered in each country by expert coach educators. Prior to delivering the workshop, the coach educators received over 20 hours of training by the research teams on how to deliver Empowering Coaching™ with fidelity.
We assessed the implications of empowering and disempowering coach behaviours and the effects of Empowering Coaching™ using mixed-methodology, including valid and reliable questionnaires, qualitative interviews with the coaches and athletes, and objective measures of the coach-created motivational climate and the boys and girls’ physical activity levels.
Evidence suggests that Empowering Coaching™ will also promote quality, health conducive and sustained engagement in sport for athletes at all competitive levels
While Empowering Coaching™ was evaluated in the grassroots football context in the PAPA project, the education programme is actually applicable to coaches and significant others (e.g., parents, club directors) from all sports. The research evidence suggests that Empowering Coaching™ will also promote quality, health conducive and sustained engagement in sport for athletes at all competitive levels. Indeed, the training programme has been identified as a ‘good practice’ by the European www.SafeguardingYouthSport.com initiative. We are currently training up tutors nationally and internationally to be able to deliver customised versions of the workshop in a variety of sport activities (e.g., rugby, athletics, swimming) and at all competitive levels (e.g., grassroots, elite academy).
For more information on Empowering Coaching™:
What are the outcomes of this research?
Our main findings revealed that, across the 5 countries and over the course of the season, children whose coach had attended the Empowering Coaching™ workshop perceived the motivational climate on their team to be less disempowering, compared to children whose coach had not attended the Empowering Coaching™ workshop. In addition, children reported lower intensions to drop-out of football after their coach had attended the Empowering Coaching™ workshop, compared to children whose coach had not attended the Empowering Coaching™ workshop. As assessed via a validated observational system, the behaviours of the coaches who received the Empowering Coaching™ training became objectively more empowering and less disempowering over the course of the season.
The PAPA project included a large research team from 8 Universities across 5 European countries:
- Professor Joan Duda (Project Lead) and Dr Paul Appleton (Project Manager) (University of Birmingham)
Dr Eleanor Quested (Project Manager) and Professor Nikos Ntoumanis (Curtin University, Australia) (both employed at the University of Birmingham during the project)
Professor Bente Wold & Professor Oddrun Samdal (University of Bergen, Norway)
Professor Isabel Balaguer & Dr Isabel Castillo (University of Valencia, Spain)
Professor Philippe Sarrazin & Assistant Professor Jean-Philippe Heuzé ( Université Joseph Fourier, France)
Professor Athanasios Papaioannou (University of Thessaly, Greece)
Professor Yngvar Ommundsen (Norwegian School of Sport Science, Norway)
Professor Howard Hall (York St John University, England)
Professor Jaume Cruz (Autonoma University of Barcelona, Spain)