Full-length published articles for those who want the complete picture of our research

Giving Due Deliberation to Masters Athletes: The Time has Come
Young, Bradley W.., Rathwell, Scott, & Callary, Bettina. (2021, January 11). Giving due deliberation to masters athletes: The time has come. The Sport Information Resource Centre.

Recently, various Canadian and international sport organizations have reached out to us and asked for evidence-based insight to help support their Masters sports programs. The result has been increasing dialogue between researchers and practitioners on how to enhance a Quality Masters Sport Experience, and about unique approaches to organizing and coaching middle-aged and older adults in sport. This article provides an overview of what we have learned about programming for enhancing MAs’ sport experiences, focused on themes that have resonated with sport programmers and coaches in our recent webinars. We specifically discuss the valuable role of a coach and adult-tailored coaching approaches, and the emergence of practical tools for coaches to hone these approaches in their craft. Read more –>

Coaching Masters Athletes in Colombia
Belalcazar, C. & Callary, Bettina. (2021). Coaching Masters Athletes in Colombia. International Sport Coaching Journal 8, 113-121.

The purpose of this article is to describe the evolution and influence of Masters Player-Coaches (MPCs) in the Asociacio ́n de Futbolistas Adultos Mayores del Tolima (in English: Masters Athletes’ Football Association of Tolima in Colombia, South America), a football league for men aged 60–70+ years. Historical forces shape a cultural backdrop that pervades football (soccer) and coaching and provides an understanding of how MPCs perceive themselves. After exploring the evolution and influence of the league, the authors uncover a peer-coaching approach in Asociacio ́n de Futbolistas Adultos Mayores del Tolima, described by the MPCs as Compan ̃ero Orientador. The authors link the importance of formally acknowledging the MPCs with their influence in fighting ageism, community building, and promoting lifelong sport. Further, MPCs provide high-quality Masters sport experiences, and their recognition supports a formal sporting structure in applying for local government grants to support the growing Masters context in Colombia. Read more –>

Goal Setting in Masters Sport: An Autoethnography of a Masters Kettlebell Athlete and Coach
Eagles, K. & Callary, Bettina. (2020). Goal Setting in Masters Sport: An Autoethnography of a Masters Kettlebell Athlete and Coach. Journal of Sport Pedagogy and Research.

The purpose of this paper is to describe the nuances of goal setting in coached Masters sport from the perspective of a Masters athlete (MA) who is also a Masters coach. Thus, this paper is an autoethnography of how the first author’s experience in goal setting plays out as a MA with an online coach, and as a coach, coaching other MAs in-person. Data were collected through a series of guided reflexive journal entries, prompted by follow up questions from the second author to create narrative visibility. Journal entries were analyzed to determine what, when, where, how, and why the first author uses goal setting. In Masters sport, goals are set using many of the same principles described in the literature from different sport contexts; however, this autoethnography indicates that it is important for goal setting to originate from the MA to account for individual motives, and then to be communicated with, negotiated by, and supported from the coach with an interdependent, adult-oriented approach. Read more –>

The Adult-Oriented Sport Coaching Survey: An Instrument Designed to Assess Coaching Behaviors Tailored to Adult Athletes
Rathwell, Scott., Young, Bradley W.., Callary, Bettina., Motz, Derrik., Hoffmann, Matt D.., & Currie, Chelsea., (2020). “The Adult-Oriented Sport Coaching Survey: An Instrument Designed to Assess Coaching Behaviors Tailored to Adult Athletes”. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology. Advance online publication. 10.1123/jsep.2020-0031.

Adult sportspersons (Masters athletes, aged 35 years and older) have unique coaching preferences. No existing resources provide coaches with feedback on their craft with Masters athletes. Three studies evaluated an Adult-Oriented Coaching Survey. Study 1 vetted the face validity of 50 survey items with 12 Masters coaches. Results supported the validity of 48 items. In Study 2, 383 Masters coaches completed the survey of 50 items. Confirmatory factor analysis and exploratory structural equation modeling indicated issues with model fit. Post hoc modifications improved fit, resulting in a 22-item, five-factor model. In Study 3, 467 Masters athletes responded to these 22 items reflecting perceptions of their coaches. Confirmatory factor analysis (comparative fit index=.951, standardized root mean square residual=.036, and root mean square error of approximation=.049) and exploratory structural equation modeling (comparative fit index = .977, standardized root mean square residual = .019, and root mean square error of approximation = .041) confirmed the model. The resultant Adult-Oriented Sport Coaching Survey provides a reliable and factorially valid instrument for measuring adult-oriented coaching practices. Read more –>

Insights into the Importance of Relational Coaching for Masters Sport
Callary, B., Currie, C., & Young, B.W. (2020). Insights into the Importance of Relational Coaching for Masters Sport. International Sport Coaching Journal (Ahead of print).

Research into the Masters (or adult) sport context has revealed important socially mediated participatory motives for Masters athletes, including a strong connection between their learning in sport and the relationships they have with their coaches. The purpose of this insights article was to identify and describe links between relevant relational perspectives in sport coaching and dominant themes extracted from research pertaining to the psychosocial aspects of coaching adults. Three theoretical perspectives are purposively explored: interdependence theory, humanistic coaching, and andragogy. We considered how these parallel bodies of literature ascribe to the particularities of coaching adults to provide insight on how to frame effective coaching approaches and coach–athlete interrelations for this unique athletic sample. We make the case for ongoing research using an andragogical model of coaching in Masters sport in understanding how coaching Masters athletes is a complex and nuanced phenomenon. Read more –>

Testing a coaching assessment tool derived from adult education in adult T sport
Young, B.W., Rathwell, S., & Callary, B. (2020). Testing a coaching assessment tool derived from adult education in adult sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 47, 101632.

Objectives: The effective tailoring of instructional approaches to adult learners is beneficial in educational domains. No tool exists to assess coaches’ use of adult-tailored methods in Masters (> 35+ years-old) sport. This study tested the content (face) and factorial (convergent, discriminant) validity of a self-report survey, derived from instructor assessment in adult education, for Masters sport coaches’ assessment of adult-oriented approaches.
Design: Phase 1 involved a systematic search to nominate a survey for import to sport. Phase 2 involved the vetting of face validity among the researchers, and with 12 Masters coaches. Phase 3 tested the fit of a hypothesized factor structure to survey data from Masters coaches.
Method: Twelve coaches (8 m, 4 f, ages = 27–75 years) representing eight sports judged the face validity of the Instructional Perspectives Inventory (IPI), resulting in descriptive statistics for each item’s suitability. A multi- sport sample of 383 Masters coaches (271 m, 110 f, 2 undisclosed; Mage = 49.32, SD = 13.60) completed the IPI, with responses submitted to confirmatory factor analyses and exploratory structural equation modeling.
Results: Frequencies revealed awkwardness with items from disparate factors of the IPI, especially reverse-coded factors. The hypothesized measurement model was ill fitting to data obtained from sport coaches.
Conclusions: Importing an established adult instructor survey from education and establishing its preliminary validity in adult sport was challenging. The resultant survey, even with minor modifications, proved insensitive to the context of Masters sport. Future research should translate content from emerging qualitative literature on the coached Masters context into a more viable quantitative instrument. Read more –>

Investigating Player Coaches’ Experiences in a Men’s Masters Basketball League.
©Disipio, C. (2020). Undergraduate honours thesis, Cape Breton University.

The purpose of this qualitative research study is to investigate the experiences of MAs who also assume coaching roles over the course of a season. Specifically, the research question is: “What are the roles and responsibilities of men’s Masters basketball player-coaches?”. 
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Comparing Masters Athletes with Varying Degrees of Coaching for Psychological Need Satisfaction and Frustration
Hoffmann, M. D., Young, B., Rathwell, S. & Callary, B. (2019). International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 0 (0), 1-6.


Exploratory research suggests Masters athletes (MAs; adult athletes >35 years) derive benefits from the coached context. This study sought to compare groups of MAs with varying degrees of coaching for reports of psychological need satisfaction and frustration. A total of 561 individual sport MAs completed surveys assessing psychological need satisfaction and frustration. MAs self-categorized into one of three groups: (1) coached MAs (n = 284), (2) moderately coached MAs (n = 92), and (3) non-coached MAs (n = 185). Analyses comprised ANOVAs followed by Games-Howell post hoc tests. Coached and moderately coached MAs reported greater relatedness satisfaction than non-coached MAs. Coached MAs also reported greater relatedness satisfaction than moderately coached MAs. Coached and moderately coached MAs reported greater autonomy frustration than non-coached MAs, whereas coached MAs reported lower relatedness frustration than moderately coached and non-coached MAs. The findings suggest the coached context assists adult athletes in fulfilling their need for belongingness. Similarly, results imply that receiving frequent exposure to coaching helps MAs experience lower feelings of relatedness frustration. Lastly, findings suggest that the structure provided by coaches can have the inevitable consequence of slightly frustrating MAs’ autonomy. Future research should explore how coach-mediated processes explain MAs’ psychological need satisfaction and frustration. Read more –>

Adult Learning Principles in Masters Sport: A Coach’s Perspective
MacLellan, J., Callary, B. & Young, B. (2019). The Canadian Journal for Adult Education, 31 (1), 21-50. ISSN1925‐993X

The art of teaching students has parallels with coaching athletes (Jones, 2007). Research has indicated that adult athletes, termed masters athletes (MAs), feel that coaches should orient their approaches differently when working with them as opposed to younger athletes (Callary, Rathwell, & Young, 2015; Ferrari, Bloom, Gilbert, & Caron, 2016). Adults’ preferences for coaching approaches align with key learning principles of the andragogy in practice model (APM) (Knowles, Holton, & Swanson, 2012). The purpose of this instrumental case study was to understand if and how each of the six andragogical (i.e., adult learning) principles were evidenced in how a 30‐year‐old female canoe/kayak coach described her approaches to facilitate learning with her MA group compared to those taken with her youth athlete group. Three semi‐structured interviews, each lasting 90 to 120 minutes, were conducted with the coach. Read more –>

Coach education and learning sources for coaches of masters swimmers
Callary, B., Rathwell, S. & Young, B. International Sport Coaching Journal. doi: 10.1123/iscj.2017-0056

The purpose of this article is to articulate swim coaches’  perceptions of how they learned to work with MAs and whether their formal coach training meets their needs related to coaching MAs. Eleven swim coaches were interviewed regarding how they learned to coach MAs, and were questioned specifically about their coach development broadly and coach education specifically. The data were thematically analyzed and results revealed six main learning sources: coaching experiences (e.g., interacting with MAs, reflection, advice from MAs, coaching youth), experience as an athlete, reading books and Internet searches, networks and mentors, formal coach education, and non-swimming experiences. Results also revealed key themes about coaches’  perceptions regarding coach education, specifically the lack of connection between coach education programs and the Masters sport context, and coaches’ interest in coach education specific to MAs. Read more –>

Same coach, different approach? How masters and youth athletes perceive learning opportunities in training
MacLellan, J., Callary, B., & Young, B. (2017). International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching. doi:10.1177/1747954117727202

This study explored a group of Masters athletes’ and a group of youth athletes’ perspectives of their common canoe/kayak coach’s approaches, with an aim to understand if and how the coach’s approaches differed based on the age cohort she was coaching. Four focus group interviews (two with each age cohort lasting 60–90 min) were conducted with nine youth (five male, four female; 14–15 years old) and 12 Masters athletes (six male, six female; 27–70 years old). Findings illustrate how one coach’s approaches varied on a continuum from coach-directed (i.e. traditional pedagogical) to athlete-directed (i.e. andragogical) styles, both evident to some degree with each cohort. Read more –>

Alignment of Masters swim coaches’ approaches with the Andragogy in Practice Model
Callary, B., Rathwell, S., & Young, B. (2017). International Sport Coaching Journal, 4, 177-190. doi: 10.1123/iscj.2016-0102

In education, the Andragogy in Practice Model (APM) characterizes adult learners and provides teachers with principles for how to best facilitate learning (Knowles, Holton III, & Swanson, 2012). The purpose of the current study was to explore how coaches describe approaches with their MAs to discover how they align with andragogical principles. The findings suggest that coaches who reported approaches in keeping with andragogical principles more effectively accommodated their MAs’ interests. When their approaches countered the principles, there appeared to be a disconnect between the coaches’ approaches and the MAs’ preferences. Together, these results provide evidence of the importance of coaches’ understanding of adult learning principles when coaching MAs.  Read more →

What women are saying about coaching needs and practices in Masters sport
Callary, B., & Young, B. (2016). Canadian Journal for Women in Coaching, 16, 1-5.

While exact numbers are unavailable, anecdotal evidence points to ever larger numbers of women competing in virtually all masters sports. This, inevitably, leads to the question of coaching. In particular, are traditional methods of coaching young girls and women readily transferable? The answer is “no”, according to research currently underway by authors Bettina Callary and Bradley W. Young. This article is an important first step in understanding the particular and unique coaching needs of women masters athletes, needs that are indeed distinct from those of younger athletes. —Sheila Robertson, Journal Editor.  Read more →

Masters Swimmers’ experiences with coaches: What they want, what they need, what they get
Callary, B., Rathwell, S., & Young, B. (2015). Sage Open, 1-14. doi: 10.1177/215824401558896

This study explored the lived experiences of 10 Masters swimmers (5 male, 5 female; age range = 45-65 years) through interviews.  Themes related to (a) swimming and non-swimming benefits; (b) coaches’ experience and professional development, personal attributes, and behaviors holding athletes accountable to training; (c) preferences for coaching instruction; (d) preferences for coaches’ planning / structuring of the practice and program; and (e) preferences for how coaches prepare and interact with them at competitions. Read more →

A coach’s facilitation of developmental outcomes in Masters Athletes.
©Currie, C. (2017). Undergraduate honours thesis, Cape Breton University.

The purpose of this undergraduate honours thesis is to examine the reflections of a coach to understand how she perceived that her actions facilitated potential developmental outcomes for her MAs. In this single case study design, one female alpine ski coach’s reflections of her training sessions throughout one season were audio-recorded and transcribed.  Read more →

Exploring the Context of Coached Masters Swim Programs: A Narrative Approach
Rathwell, S., Callary, B., & Young, B. (2015). International Journal of Aquatic Research & Education, 9, 70-88. doi: 10.1123/ijare.2014-0068

The purpose of this study was to capture important psychosocial themes from the perspective of Masters swimmers involved in day-to-day coached swimming environments. Data were collected using semistructured open-ended interviews with 10 competitive swimmers (5 male, 5 female; M age = 53 years; age range: 45–65 years). Analyses revealed four over-arching themes that represented athletes’ a) motives for swimming, b) perspectives on competition, c) experiences specific to being a Masters swimmer, and d) perspectives on being coached. Using a qualitative narrative approach (Denison, 2010), we developed three narrative profiles to depict how our Masters swimmers had different experiences relating to these themes. Our discussion focuses on how swimmers’ understanding of the four over-arching themes depends on their profile.  Read more →

Exploring novel considerations for the coaching of Masters AthletesYoung, B., Callary, B., & Niedre, P. (2014). International Sport Coaching Journal, 1, 86-93. doi:10.1123/iscj.2014-0052

Coaching approaches with adult athletes may prove to be quite different than with younger cohorts, and therefore demanding of novel and innovative considerations. This paper draws from emerging perspectives in research on Masters athletes (MAs) and interpretations of broader psycho-social and -pedagogical literature to advance an early roadmap guiding practical strategies for coaches and sport programmers to consider when working with MAs.  Read more →