During the past decade, sports coaching has been increasingly depicted as situationally constructed, comprising negotiated interactions between a myriad of social actors in context (e.g., Santos, Jones & Mesquita, 2013). A particular aspect of this enquiry has explored how coaches and athletes manipulate their ‘social competencies’ to maintain and improve the relationships established (e.g., Jones et al., 2011). Of importance here have been investigations into the concepts of role, power and interaction (e.g., Potrac et al., 2013; Potrac & Jones, 2009). An aspect not yet engaged with as a part of this relational agenda, however, has been that of trust; that is, the trust (or distrust) that exists within coaching contexts which enables or inhibits the activity from working. This would appear an unwarranted neglect seeing that trust is deemed a vital function in the development and advancement of constructive relations (Purdy, Potrac & Nelson, 2013), and forms the bedrock of all strong relationships (Reina & Reina, 2006; Mitzal, 1996; Hardin, 2002; Hoy & Tschannen-Moran, 1999).
The purpose of this study is to explore the nature of trust within sports coaching. This overarching aim will be addressed through six related research questions;
1. What can be defined as trust between and among coaches and athletes?
2. By what means do athletes and coaches develop trusting relationships, and what do these look like in practice?
3. How does trust/distrust manifest itself between coaches, athletes and context?
4. What sorts of power and exchange mechanisms are at work?
5. How do individuals prove themselves to be trustworthy?
6. How is the work of repair undertaken when trust is perceived to be broken?