Loughborough University
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Exploring professional coach educators in the United Kingdom: experiences, roles and realities

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posted on 2020-07-22, 09:42 authored by Darren WattsDarren Watts
There is a paucity of research focusing on the professional coach educator and their voices rarely feature in the coaching literature. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore sixteen coach educators’ journeys and experiences, understandings, practice, role and realities from a variety of sports and levels of coach education in the United Kingdom. As such, the research enabled this sample of coach educators’ voices and experiences to be heard and for their socialisation processes from childhood to be investigated. The coach educators were interviewed using semi-structured interviews that provided exploratory insights into them and their biographies. The data were analysed thematically through inductive and deductive processes. Themes were identified that related to the coach educators’ journeys and lives as well as their understandings of coach learning and coach education. To offer a more sophisticated appreciation of coach educators and coach education the sociological framework of Pierre Bourdieu was adopted. The analysis showed that their beliefs and perceptions had been formed, inculcated and reproduced as a result of taken-for-granted and doxic experiences (Bourdieu, 1977) as athletes, learners, coaches and in coach education and tutor training (and tertiary education in some cases). The participants expressed that their practice, roles and realities were prescriptive, highly structured, repetitive and pressurised and they viewed coach education as being decontextualised and low impact. The participants suggested that knowledge of ‘learning’ was important for coaching and coach education and associated it with contextualised and situated practice. However, analysis showed that the coach educators’ pedagogical knowledge was somewhat limited, confused and lacked conceptual understanding. As such, this typically positioned the professional coach educator as being unreflective, unreflexive and compliant as they appropriated legitimate (but questionable) methods. The findings highlighted there is a need to further examine coach educators’ experiences, understandings, tutor training and to conduct much-needed critical inquiry with coach developers and those occupying senior SGB positions.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


Loughborough University

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© Darren W. Watts

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A doctoral thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


  • en


Chris Cushion ; Lorraine Cale

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  • PhD

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

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