Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences


Sport and Exercise Psychology

Committee Chair

Samuel Zizzi

Committee Co-Chair

Malayna Bernstein

Committee Member

Kristen Dieffenbach

Committee Member

Al Kasprowicz

Committee Member

Jack Watson


Parents and coaches were encouraged to keep their roles separate in order to promote optimal youth sport participation and avoid excessive and pressuring involvement (Gould, et al., 2008; Wolfenden & Hoyt, 2005). Despite these recommendations, the phenomenon of parents volunteering to coach their own children has dramatically increased (Brown, 1998). Managing the blurred boundaries of these coaching dual-role relationships throughout the athlete's development is a delicate endeavor and remains unexplored in individual sports (Jowett, 2008; Weiss & Fretwell, 2005). Tennis has been identified as an ideal context to examine the dynamics of parenting and coaching relationships and is notorious for a high prevalence of parent-coaches (Agassi, 2009; Gould et al., 2008; Lauer, 2010). The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of female tennis players who were coached by their fathers since childhood and then competed for an NCAA Division I college tennis team. All 318 NCAA Division I women's tennis coaches were contacted and a purposive sampling method was used to identify eight eligible female tennis players willing to participate. A phenomenological interview approach was used to examine their experiences with the dual-role relationships and coaching transitions to college. A holistic narrative approach was used to build the trajectories of these relationships retrospectively. Findings were displayed following the four developmental periods where specific challenges emerged. Navigating the blurred boundaries was negatively influenced, to various degrees, by the participants' dependency and urges to receive approval from their fathers, the presence of physical and emotional abuse, the lack of conflict resolution strategies, and the strain on family members. The coaching transitions helped normalize the father-daughter relationships and provided insight into the respective needs that were fulfilled through the dual-role relationships. One particular father-daughter dyad suggests that such relationships are not impossible to manage successfully and recommendations for parent-coaches are offered.