Date of Award

Spring 3-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Jeffrey Lee

Second Advisor

Dr. John Halverson

Third Advisor

Dr. Phil Pendley


The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to understand and describe the transformational leadership behaviors of a successful NCAA Division I water polo coach. This study examined the transformational leadership behaviors of a NCAA Division I coach who led a team to a national championship and who was a former Olympic athlete and national team coach. Data were collected from interviews of the head coach and participants who had direct lived experiences with the coach, as well as through observations of practices and games, and the collection of artifacts.

The findings from this research showed that the head coach demonstrated transformational leadership behaviors in all six domains examined: individual consideration, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, fostering acceptance of group goals, high performance expectations, and appropriate role modeling. Based on the literature and findings of this study, it was concluded that a successful NCAA Division I water polo coach must set a positive example both off and on the pool deck, create a practice culture that increases intensity and motivation, allow for creative freedom within an established structure, treat the team as a family, share stories to inspire and motivate, develop a vision, focus on building relationships, and establish core values.

It was recommended that coaches develop emotional intelligence, replicate gamelike scenarios in practice that foster teamwork in high-intensity situations, allow for athletes to solve problems in games and practice, share stories that focus on the team’s values and desired culture, spend time with athletes one-on-one, develop a positive mindset, and reflect after games and practices. In addition, athletic departments should provide a budget to allow for outside activities and for teams to work with a sport psychologist in creating a vision and establishing goals.