How coaching ability moderates player incentives to perform: A hierarchical Bayesian approach of the NFL

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Journal of Sport Management


Do better coaches strengthen player incentives to perform? This research examines how coaching ability moderates extrinsic motivators (salary and contracts) on player performance. Building on motivation and sports psychology theory, this study proposes that better coaches facilitate higher paid players to perform. However, the author proposes that an increase in coaching ability weakens player performance when contracts are used as motivators. Making this challenging is evaluating player performance, especially in disentangling the player's performance from that of the team. To address these concerns, a hierarchical linear model with empirical Bayesian processes is used; the model separates player and group effects by allowing for nonindependent observations (i.e., player performance depends on team members and competitors). Using a novel and holistic data set of National Football League player performance, the findings show that, on average, an increase in coaching ability is associated with higher player performance. Coaching ability does not significantly moderate salary on player performance. Yet, increasing coaching ability negatively moderates contractual incentives on player performance. The research concludes with implications and future research directions.

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