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'Trying to get our message across’: successes and challenges in an evidence-based professional development programme for sport coaches

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journal contribution
posted on 06.06.2016, 14:11 by Mark Griffiths, Kathleen Armour, Christopher CushionChristopher Cushion
This paper reports data from the evaluation of a coach education programme provided by a major national governing body of sport (NGB) in the UK. The programme was designed for youth sport coaches based on research evidence that suggests that CPD is most effective in supporting practitioner learning when it is interactive, collaborative and located in practice. At the same time, the NGB was keen to ensure that in order to meet the objectives of the organisation, there was some consistency in delivery across the various practice sites. The research aimed to investigate how the original CPD programme was enacted across eight professional sports clubs, and to understand how professional knowledge was interpreted and negotiated between participants at the NGB and sports club levels. Over a 2-year period, data were collected from a series of focus groups and extended individual semi-structured interviews. Participants were 7 senior managers, 8 coach educators, 8 Academy club directors and 12 sports club coaches. Data were initially analysed inductively and, drawing on the theoretical work of Bernstein [(1999). Vertical and horizontal discourse: An essay. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 20(2), 157–173, (2000). Pedagogy, symbolic control and identity: Theory, research, critique (Rev. ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield], illustrate the numerous ways in which programme knowledge was interpreted, facilitated and blocked at different levels of the organisation. The paper adds new insights into the complexities of coach education settings and the inherent challenges faced when attempting to ‘roll out’ a coach education intervention – even when it is ‘evidence-based’.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

Sport, Education and Society






283 - 295


GRIFFITHS, M., ARMOUR, K. and CUSHION, C.J., 2016. 'Trying to get our message across’: successes and challenges in an evidence-based professional development programme for sport coaches. Sport, Education and Society, 23 (3), pp.283-295.


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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Sport, Education and Society on 11 May 2016, available online: