Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Loughead, T.


factorial validity, group dynamics, leadership development, qualitative research, social network analysis, trait emotional intelligence




Athlete leadership is the process of one or more individuals (i.e., players) within a sports team influencing their team members to achieve common objectives (Loughead, Hardy, & Eys, 2006). The study of athlete leadership has gained attention in the sport literature with accumulating research demonstrating its positive role in effective team functioning (for reviews, see Cotterill & Fransen, 2016; Loughead, 2017). However, as a relatively young field of research, there remain many gaps in the current literature. As such, the aim of this dissertation was to extend our knowledge of athlete leadership by contributing to two underexplored lines of enquiry: athlete leadership as a shared process and athlete leaders’ emotional competence. This objective was accomplished through three separate studies. In Chapter 2, social network analysis (SNA) was used to examine athlete leadership across multiple levels (i.e., individual, dyadic, and network) within four competitive youth soccer teams. Findings demonstrated differences in the degree to which athlete leadership was shared within each team. In addition, skill nomination and formal leadership status were significant predictors of how often participants reported looking to their teammates for leadership. The purpose of Chapter 3 was to assess the construct validity of the Profile of Emotional Competence (PEC; Brasseur, Grégoire, Bourdu, & Mikolajczak, 2013) with a sample of intercollegiate athletes. The factor structure of the PEC was examined using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and exploratory structural equation modeling (ESEM). Findings did not support the a priori factor structure of PEC. Finally, the purpose of Chapter 4 was to examine the practices of intercollegiate coaches for facilitating the development of shared athlete leadership in their teams using semi-structured interviews. Coaches discussed their desire to empower athletes, which appeared to directly influence their adoption of shared athlete leadership. To facilitate the development of shared athlete leadership in their teams, coaches described using leadership groups and alternative leadership structures (e.g., rotating captain, defined leadership roles, and ‘captainless’ teams), creating a positive team environment, and deliberate athlete leadership development efforts. The findings from this dissertation help advance our understanding of athlete leadership and offer new directions for research and practice.