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Leadership in Sport

The core of leadership research has traditionally consisted of considering the dyadic constellations of managers and employees. The fields of application here are mostly concentrated around commercial organizations and public bodies. From a scientific standpoint, however, limiting the phenomenon of (Human Resource) management to these core areas does not go far enough. Beyond these constraints, leadership constellations can be identified in a variety of other contexts.


The Department’s team is especially devoted to examining the situation of leadership in sport. Particularly in prominent major sports – such as football or basketball in Germany – the success or failure of a team is attributed to the performance of the coach to a significant extent.

Our goal is to carry out scientific investigations into the connections between the behavior of a coach and the performance of sportspeople. In order to be able to paint a differentiated picture here, we are examining both competitive and recreational sports and individual and team sports separately.


Current Projects:

Leadership in Professional Basketball

Leadership in Professional Football

We are currently carrying out two separate projects to examine the situation of leadership in both professional basketball and football in Germany. Using a similar research design as used in the footballing world, we are considering the question of how the leadership behavior and leadership style of trainers influence the performance of sportspeople.


Completed Projects:

Leadership in Professional Football: In the course of this project, we applied ourselves to the problem of how the leadership behavior of football trainers impacts the performance of players. The goals of the study were twofold:

1. To examine the external validity of the leadership paradigms of transactional and transformational leadership.

2. To expand sport psychology’s understanding of leadership and derive from it recommendations for action.


Transformational and Transactional Leadership in Martial Arts: Traditional martial arts are very well suited to scientific enquiries into leadership thanks to their clearly defined hierarchical structures and the understanding teachers and pupils have of each other’s roles. The relationship between the Sensei (teacher) and the Karateka (student) in classical karate formed the central focus of this project. With the help of this study, we were able to prove the efficacy of both transformational and transactional leadership in the field of sports for the first time (Rowold, 2006).



Rowold, J. (2006): Transformational and transactional leadership in martial arts. In: Journal of Applied Sport Psychology 18 (4), S. 312–325.