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How a coach builds an athletic program with a culture of winning and success: A case study

Pat L Lutt, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this microethnography case study was to research how the Head Coach of a winning collegiate baseball program could instill a team culture of winning. ^ This study begins the understanding of the processes a Head Coach and his Assistants utilize in their day to day activities and during games as they developed and maintained their winning team culture. This was a six month in-depth investigation of one successful collegiate athletic program involving four months of active field work and another two months of interviews and follow-up. A unique feature of this study was the situated context of the Baseball program as a Tier 2 sport in respect to athletic program resources. Further, the State College where this program is located does not have an institution wide culture of winning and success in the athletic department. ^ The Head Coach and four Assistant Coaches, of which three were senior or graduate assistants, were the major research subjects. The 38 team members and the athletic trainer were also relevant to the impact of this study. Field observations during practice and games were the primary source of data. Exit interviews with the coaches were conducted in May and June following the wrap-up of the baseball season and were very important to the triangulation of the field observations. The interviews themselves were very insightful to the cognitive coaching processes and levels utilized by the coaches. ^ The results of this study generated seven major organizational cultural themes each with supporting subset behaviors, rituals, customs, symbols or language. The seven themes are: (1) relentless performance culture, (2) procedural decision strategies, (3) culture of discipline, (4) confidence, (5) singularity of purpose, (6) family, and (7) fun. These themes construct the foundation of this team's organizational culture, shaping and giving the student athlete players/members rules for how to behave and for how to conduct themselves when faced with obstacles or problems. ^

Subject Area

Education, Physical|Education, Business|Recreation

Recommended Citation

Lutt, Pat L, "How a coach builds an athletic program with a culture of winning and success: A case study" (2004). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3159552.