Understanding coach learning
Coach learning is a complex process of which we have relatively little appreciation. Existing knowledge is largely fragmented and has tended to lack conceptual clarity and theoretical depth of understanding. This investigation sought to build on existing understanding by adding to a limited body of information about knowledge structures, learning situations, motives and deterrents to learning, and means of enhancing the provision of coach education. Data were derived from 90 UK practitioners (82 males &8 females), comprising a range of sports (n = 8), who had accumulated on average 23 years of coaching experience (ranging from 3-50 years). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 elite performance coaches. 74 practitioners of a diverse range of coaching levels completed open-ended questionnaires. All of the data were subjected to inductive content analysis. A number of theoretical `hooks' were utilised within the analysis process to help make sense of the findings. Analysis of the findings demonstrated that: (1) while it was possible to compartmentalise the coaches' knowledge structures (i. e., Ologies, Pedagogy, and Sport Specific), coaching practice likely requires integrated understanding; (2) the coaches under investigation learnt in formal, nonformal, and informal situations; (3) the participants' learning endeavours were largely driven by an internal desire to actualise their coaching potential; (4) dispositional, institutional, and situational barriers were shown to deter these practitioners from further coach learning participation; and (5) these practitioners were pragmatic learners who desired relevant and usable knowledge. Exploration of the coaches' educational experiences, and perceptions about optimal provision, revealed that they wanted more active learning opportunities (i. e., observations, group discussions, practical experiences, and mentoring schemes). Collectively, the results of this investigation built upon previous understanding of coach learning. They highlighted the significance and underresearched link between the types of knowledge these coaches had acquired, what drove their continued learning engagement, and how these factors had influenced their actual and preferred learning approaches. These findings, therefore, not only contributed towards a greater understanding of how coaches learn, but what needs to be considered if the ongoing development of coaching practitioners is to be better supported. Continued exploration of these factors is required if greater depth of understanding is to evolve.
- Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences