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Research Grant Program

Promoting research that investigates the effectiveness of coach education and coach development programs

The United States Center for Coaching Excellence (USCCE) is excited to announce the 2022 (4th Annual) USCCE Research Grant Program. Grant awards will range from $1,000 to $3,000. The primary purpose of the grant program is to provide support for researchers investigating best practices in coach education and coach development programs. The desired outcome is to provide coach educators and coach developers with evidence-based practices for developing sport coaches.

Sample proposal topics

Topics of interest to the USCCE include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Experimental designs evaluating the best practices in training sport coaches
  • Qualitative study of coach educators on effective practices implemented in coach training programs
  • Ethnographic exploration of an effective coach education program
  • Examining the benefits and effectiveness of NCACE Accredited programs compared to non-accredited programs


  • Any person who has been a professional or organizational member of the USCCE for two years is eligible (Note: USCCE membership of at least one investigator must be current at the time of the grant application submission and for the duration of the grant if awarded. )
  • The primary recipient of a USCCE research grant may only receive funding once every 3 years.

Award Obligations

  • The USCCE Membership must be maintained and current during the year of the award.
  • Recipients must submit a budget statement and summary of progress of 500 words or less within 3 months after the end of the funding period (i.e., 1 year from receipt of grant monies). If the grant is not managed through an organizational grants office (e.g., college/university grants office), copies of receipts must be provided along with the final budget statement.
  • Unused funds will be resubmitted to the USCCE.
  • An abstract of the completed work will be submitted for consideration at the first eligible North American Coach Development Summit that follows the completion of the grant. If accepted, the NACDS registration fee will be waived for the principal investigator.
  • Any publication(s) resulting from the grant should acknowledge funding from the USCCE.

Past Awards


2021 - Examination of the Policy Design Process for Coach Education Policies of High School State Athletic Associations (Kylee Ault, Andy Driska, Dan Gould; Michigan State University). $2,866.

Abstract: In the United States, governance of high school athletics follows a decentralized model, in which policies regarding sport participation and coach preparation vary substantially between states. In each state, a governing association creates the relevant athletic policies (e.g., eligibility, rules and fair play, coach education requirements) and compels high schools to adhere to these policies by the association’s control of participation in sanctioned athletic contests. The fragmented nature of coach education requirements has made it difficult for scholars to offer blanket recommendations for improving coach education programs for interscholastic athletics (Van Mullem & Mathias, 2021) because there is little data exploring the coach education policies themselves and how they are derived. Policies are designed to provide solutions to social problems using different policy tools (Mitra, 2018; Stone, 2002). Therefore, a key component to understanding and advancing coach education policies is examining the policy design and decision-making process to understand how coach education policy serves the unique circumstances faced in each state. The authors’ ongoing research into policy across the 50 HSAAs has shown that states fall into three different regulatory levels (i.e., high, moderate, minimal) based on the depth and breadth of coach education requirements and the association’s involvement in the provision of coach education. The purpose of this study is to build on these policy classifications using a comparative-case design through qualitative inquiry with policymakers to understand the decision-making differences between states with high, moderate, and minimal regulatory levels. Findings from this study would help coach development scholars and advocacy organizations (like the USCCE) understand the factors that shape policy in different states, allowing them to target policy recommendations in such a way to benefit the unique regulatory culture of each state.

2020 - Utilizing motivational theory to assess how coach developers shape the behaviors of coaches (Jody Langdon, Diane Benish, Georgia Southern University). $2,941.

Abstract: The role of the coach has become increasingly complex given their responsibility over athletes’ physical, emotional, social, and cognitive development. For this reason, it is imperative that coach development programs be strategically implemented in order for effective coach learning to occur. Coach developers have a vital role in facilitating effective behavioral change and motivating coaches to take ownership over their continued learning (ICCE, 2014, p. 10). Therefore, this research aims to evaluate the coach developer-coach relationship within a current coach development program in order to understand the influence of the coach developer created motivational climate on the coaches’ basic need satisfaction and motivation to coach. Coach developers of US Lacrosse will be observed modeling appropriate coaching behavior during coach development clinics while coaches participate as athletes. Coaching behaviors of coach developers will be recorded using video and will be analyzed using systematic observation. To support this data, coaches will be asked to participate in focus groups following the clinic and will also have their own coaching observed. From this information, individual feedback will be created for coach developers to learn and/or improve their conveyed motivational climate to be more autonomy supportive and task-involving, in line with Self-Determination Theory and Achievement Goal Theory. Learning these skills could help create a more positive motivational environment for future Lacrosse coaches, which has the potential to increase coaches’ motivation to coach and promote effective learning transfer post training.

2019 - Motivating Morality: Examining the Effect of an Autonomy-Supportive Coach Training Program on Youth Ice Hockey Players’ Moral Behavior (Megan Babkes Stellino, Zachary McCarver, University of Northern Colorado). $3,000.

Abstract: Effective coaching occurs when their behavior ignites positive outcomes in their athletes (Boardley et al., 2008). The model of coaching efficacy (Feltz et al., 1999) elaborates on the degree to which coaches have the perceived ability to influence the learning and performance of their athletes. Coaching efficacy, derived from four sub-dimensions; motivation, game strategy, technique, and character building (Feltz et al., 1999), has been shown to proliferate athletes’ behaviors and experiences, such as enjoyment, commitment, effort, and moral behavior (Boardley et al., 2008). Motivation efficacy encompasses a coaches’ belief in their ability to positively influence athlete’s behavior. Previous literature has shown motivation to mediate moral behavior (Kavussanu & Roberts, 2001). Orgasmic integration theory posits that environments can provoke autonomous (i.e., intrinsic) or controlled (i.e., extrinsic) motivation depending on the degree to which an individual identifies with, and integrates, the expected behaviors into their sense of self (Ryan & Deci, 2000). A perceived autonomy-supportive coaching environment has been associated with moral sport behavior, whereas a controlled coaching environment has been associated with immoral sport behavior (Delrue et al., 2017). Youth ice hockey coaches’ behaviors have been found to effect athletes’ good and poor behaviors (Davies et al., 2016). Researchers have summoned practitioners to educate coaches regarding their autonomy-support and its effect on youth athlete behavior (Spruit et al., 2018). The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of educating coaches about, and the effects of, creating autonomy-supportive environments on coaches’ perceived efficacy (i.e., motivation, technique, game strategy, and character building) to implement an autonomy-supportive environment and the ensuing impact on athlete’s self-reported moral behavior, moral motivation, and perceived autonomy-supportive environment.

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