Giselle Winston

Article Critique 1

Liberty University




This paper explores
ways in which Christian Division 1 head coaches utilize prayer within their
profession. This study employed a humanistic framework; existential-phenomenology
which allowed for the results to be based on the individual who was being
interviewed and made them the expert in the matter. Upon analysis of the data,
four themes were discovered: 1.) relying on God’s Guidance, 2.) roles of coaching,
3.) prayer types, and 4.) subtle influence (Egli, Czech, Shaver, and Biber, 2014).
Under these themes there were also multiple subthemes discovered for three of
the four. The use of prayer in sport has not always been accepted under the thought
that church and school should be separated. However, it seems as though prayer
in sport has become ritualistic, some may even say it has become the norm in
sports. This paper examines Egli, Czech, Shaver, and Biber’s (2014) research on
the experiences of Division 1 head coaches use of prayer within their


            The purpose of
this study was to examine the experiences of Division 1 head coaches use of
prayer within their profession. Prior to this study, there was no published
research that was designed to understand how a coach of the Christian religion used
prayer. For this study, the authors utilized a humanistic framework that would be
centered on seeing the individual being interviewed as the expert on the matter
being discussed (Egli, Czech, Shaver, and Biber, 2014).

            Prayer has been known to be used by
athletes and coaches to cope with uncertainty, stay out of trouble, give
meaning to sports participation, put sports into a balanced perspective,
establish team solidarity and unity, reaffirm rules, expectations, and social
control on teams, assert autonomy in the face of power, and to achieve personal
and athletic success (Coakley, 2009).


            The sample size, or co-participants
as they are called in the study, were contacted through associates of the head
researcher and research team. It included six NCAA Division 1 coaches, 3 male
and 3 females. The sample included 1 African American coach and the other 5
coaches were Caucasian. Each Coach was the head of a female sport; the sports
included were soccer, basketball, track and field and swimming. Through the use
of purposeful sampling, information rich cases were obtained on the topic at
hand. The coaches were thought to be Christian based on self-profession of the
faith as well as agreeing to the ideals of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes
(Egli, Czech, Shaver, and Biber, 2014). The study does not state whether the
coaches are from the same University or the same geographical location. This
was problematic for me due to the fact that not all Christians think the same.
There are Liberal Christians and Conservative Christians, most likely if the
individuals are from the same university or location then thy will have the same
views which doesn’t not leave much room for any variation in thought.


            The methodology used in this study
was bias exploration and bracketing. When using existential phenomenology, the
researcher is the data collector leaving room for bias within their
interpretation of what is being said (Egli, Czech, Shaver, and Biber, 2014).
Bias from the researcher can hinder the truth from coming out. To avoid this
happening within the study the first author was made to undergo a “bracketing
interview”. This was done so that any ideals that he previously had about the
topic due to personal experiences would be brought to light (Egli, Czech,
Shaver, and Biber, 2014). By doing this the researcher was aware of what his
thoughts were and he would be better able to separate them from what was
actually being said by the co-participant.

            Utilizing this methodology makes it
that much easier to gather the data. As a researcher, it is easy to misconstrue
your thoughts and the interviewee’s thoughts if you are not aware of your own
personal biases. By shedding light on what your personal thoughts are, the
researcher is able to keep these thoughts in mind so that they are not forcing
connections to be made that are not truly there.


            The significant findings in this study
brought light to 4 themes: (a) relying on God’s guidance, (b) roles of
coaching, (c) prayer types, and (d) subtle influence (Egli, Czech, Shaver, and
Biber, 2014)..

Relying on God’s Guidance to the co-participants
meant seeking God’s wisdom and guidance to navigate through specific issues
within the team. This theme also led to the thought that God has his own plan
for each of us and the situations he places us in and as Christians it is
necessary for us to trust in God and his will. There were 3 subthemes found:
Wisdom with team issues, trusting God’s Will and Coping.

The next theme, Roles of Coaching, was broken
down past the roles outlined in the job description of a coach. Being a coach
extends past what you are required to do on your respective playing field and
in practices. The three subthemes found were impact beyond sport, preparation
as a coach and leader, and success. As a coach, you aim to have an impact of your
players beyond the years that you serve as their coach as well as wanting to
teach them more than how to run a play. Those thoughts are evident in reading
that the co-participants said about having an impact beyond sport.

Prayer types was the third theme found during
this study. There were two different types of prayer/subthemes explored; team
prayer and personal prayer. The co-participants explained their experiences
when praying with their team, this was a method of bringing the team together
before and after competition. With personal prayer, the co-participants
referred to doing this not only within sport but within their personal lives as

The final theme, subtle influence, had no
subthemes. Each of the co-participants made it known that they wanted ache of
the players not to feel pressured to engage in any spiritual act with the team.
Due to the separation of church and school, it was not always appropriate to
discuss religion within the profession.


            The concept of this study can be
related to sport ministry. Coaching is one of the most influential jobs you can
have in sports because of the interaction and effect you have on the player. As
a Christian coach, you have the ability to use your platform to show the
players and staff a different way of looking at situations and coping with
stress. Athletics can be stressful on both the athlete and the leader of the
team but through prayer that stress can be rechanneled. 


Egli, T., Czech, D., Shaver, G., & Biber, D.
(2014). The Experience of Christian Prayer in Coaching: A Qualitative
Investigation. Journal
of Psychology and Christianity,33(1), 45-57.
Retrieved January 28, 2018.