Background: The study aimed to investigate the preferred and perceived leadership style of coaches belonging to four popular sports (track and field, badminton and volleyball and
basketball) in the state of Kerala, India.
Methods:The participants were 144 junior athletes, (track and field = 36, badminton = 42, basketball = 32 and volleyball = 34) participating at the national level competitions. The
sample consisted of 83 male athletes and 61 female athletes in the age group of 16 to 19 years. All the athletes completed the preferred and perceived version of Leadership Scale for Sports developed
by Chelladurai and Saleh (1980). A multivariate analysis of variance was conducted with the behavioral variables as dependent variables and gender and sport type as independent variables.
Results:The results showed significant differences in perception and preference of athletes on the different dimensions of coaching behaviour. Female athletes reported significantly
higher values on social support, democratic behaviour and positive feedback. Athletes of team sports perceived their coaches to be more socially supportive than the individual sports athletes. Female
athletes of team sports reported higher values on social support as compared to other groups. Female athletes of individual sports perceived higher levels of positive feedback as compared to other
Conclusions:Exploring the athlete’s perception and preference of leadership behaviour of coaches would benefit the coaches to develop better coach athlete relationship and to better
motivate the athletes and increase their satisfaction and performance.