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Leen Haerens

Leen Haerens, PhD
Ghent University
Medicine and Health Sciences
Movement and Sports Sciences

Prof. Leen Haerens leads the research group in Sports Pedagogy at in the Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Ghent University. Guided by Self-Determination Theory, her mission is to generate new knowledge and practical insights that enable children, youth and adults to develop, learn and perform in safe and motivating (movement) contexts. Through her work, she has generated several paradigm shifting insights regarding the (de-)motivating style of teachers and sport coaches. Particularly relevant to the current chair is the work on controlling coaching. In her work, she has challenged three pervasive laymen’s beliefs: (1) that certain controlling practices such as pressuring and intimidating athletes are needed for instilling discipline, (2) that a controlling style is beneficial in some situations or for some athletes, and (3) that the periodic use of a controlling style is no longer detrimental if combined with a generally supportive style. Innovative aspects of her work include the use of video-based vignettes, the development of observational measures, and the use of profile analyses to gain more refined insights into combinations of (de-) motivating styles of teachers’ and coaches’. Prof. Leen Haerens also has tremendous expertise with developing and testing interventions to train teachers, coaches and managers to adopt a more motivating and less demotivating style. In Flanders, she intensively collaborates with Prof. Tine Vertommen (forensic psychology research unit, Thomas More University of Applied Sciences; Ghent University) to coordinate and develop a substantial and multidisciplinary research team on safe sports.