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Coaches' views on how to develop shared leadership

Gerrit van Dalfsen (Sport Studies, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen, Netherlands)
Jo Van Hoecke (Sport Policy and Management, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussel, Belgium)
Hans Westerbeek (The Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia)
Veerle De Bosscher (Sport Policy and Management, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussel, Belgium)

Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Article publication date: 25 December 2020

Issue publication date: 21 May 2021




The purpose of this paper is to investigate coaches' views on developing leadership and shared leadership capacity in particular in competitive youth football.


This qualitative examination focusses on the leadership philosophy of ten male coaches at the sub-elite competitive level in youth football in The Netherlands and applies the theory of shared leadership to examine coaches' views on developing leadership capacity.


Only few coaches have a clear philosophy on the development of leadership in general and/or shared leadership in particular. Most coaches do not have a distinct view on how to involve players in the team processes. Shared leadership development in youth teams occurs occasionally but can be implemented more intentionally.

Research limitations/implications

Although this study lacks generalizability, coaches' views are required in understanding how shared leadership is to be developed in youth sport.

Practical implications

For implementing shared leadership in football purposefully, a clear view on the development of youth is required, whereas coaches need to be taught, how to involve the individual players in team processes such as decision-making. In addition, leadership development in sport may have the potential of transfer of skills to other domains.

Social implications

Learning shared leadership at a young age by athletes can have a positive influence on relationships in teams on micro-level and might have an impact on meso-level within a football club because of its social constructionist approach.


This study is one of the first to apply shared leadership at the micro-level of competitive youth football making use of football coaches' view.



Disclosure statement: No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.


van Dalfsen, G., Van Hoecke, J., Westerbeek, H. and Bosscher, V.D. (2021), "Coaches' views on how to develop shared leadership", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 265-286.



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