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Leadership in Sports

Traditionally, the core of leadership research is the examination of the dyadic constellation of manager and employee. The fields of application here usually focus on entrepreneurial organizations or public institutions. However, limiting the phenomenon of (personnel) leadership to these core areas is not enough from a scientific point of view. Leadership constellations can also be found in a variety of other contexts.

The chair team is particularly dedicated to the study of the leadership situation in sports. Especially in prominent major sports, such as football or basketball in Germany, the performance of the manager is attributed a decisive importance with regard to the success or failure of a team.

Our goal is to scientifically investigate the relationship between the behavior of a manager and the performance of the athletes. In order to be able to draw a differentiated picture here, we consider separately both competitive and recreational sports as well as individual and team sports.

Completed projects:

Leadership in professional football: In this project, we addressed the question of how football managers' leadership behaviors affect player performance. The objectives of the study were twofold:

    1. testing the external validity of the leadership paradigm of transactional and transformational leadership.

    2. expansion of the sports psychological understanding of leadership and the derivation of recommendations for action.

Transformational and transactional leadership in martial arts: Traditional martial arts lend themselves very well to leadership research questions thanks to the clearly defined hierarchy structures and role understandings between teacher and student. This project focused on the relationship between sensei (teacher) and karateka (student) in classical karate. This study was the first to demonstrate the effectiveness of both transformational and transactional leadership in the field of sport (Rowold, 2006).


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

Leadership in professional basketball

Leadership in professional American football

We investigated the leadership situation in both German professional basketball and American football in two separate projects. In a similar research design as in football, we are investigating how the leadership behavior or the leadership style of managers influences the performance of athletes.