The professional relationship between an athlete and coach is a unique relationship due
to the large quantity and intensity of time spent together. When athletes engage in
consensual relationships with their coach, the professional and personal spheres within
this relationship interact together. Previous high-profile sporting examples within the
media, highlight the unknown area of athletes being involved in both personal and
professional relationships with their coach.
Within the professional relationship, the coach is viewed to hold power compared to
the athlete; therefore, previous literature links consensual sexual relationships between
an athlete and coach with abuse literature. The aim of this recent study was to separate
the coach-athlete personal and professional relationships from abusive literature within
sporting literature. To help gain an enriched understanding of athletes’ experiences of
being coached by their partner.
Five female athletes, who were married to their coach, participated in an individual
open-ended semi-structured interview. Their responses were analysed to explore their
experiences of being coached by their partner, creating an enriched understanding of
the interaction between the home and sporting domain.
Thematic analysis indicated four themes within the data analysis: emotional
connection, power dynamics within the interaction of the personal and professional
domain, pragmatic issues within the interaction of the personal and professional
relationship and having your coach with you at all times. Findings suggest that
through the interaction of the personal and professional relationship, athletes’
experience an additional component of being emotionally connected to their coach.
The power which coaches hold within the professional relationship is viewed by the
athletes to be at a diluted level. Within the interaction of the personal and professional
relationships blurred boundaries arise which creates pragmatic issues for the athlete.
Lastly, athletes suggest positives that occur from having their coach with them at all
The results of this study point to the positive aspects of the interaction of the personal
and professional relationship, for athletes who are coached by their partner. Future
research could include the perspective of coaches to understand their experiences.
Additionally, future research could explore gender differences between athletes and