The Role of the Coach in Action Sports: Using a Problem-based Learning Approach

in International Sport Coaching Journal
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  • 1 University of Jyväskylä
  • 2 University of Waikato
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Action sports (e.g., snowboarding, skateboarding, windsurfing, BMX) have traditionally celebrated antiauthoritarian, do-it-yourself and anticompetition cultural values. With the institutionalization and commercialization of action sports over the past two decades, and the introduction of mega-sports events such as the X Games, and the inclusion of some action sports into the Olympic Games (i.e., snowboarding, freestyle skiing, BMX), action sport athletes are increasingly working with coaches, psychologists, agents, managers and personal trainers to improve their performances. In this Insights paper we consider coaching in action sports via the case of Finnish professional snowboarders’ attitudes to coaches. Drawing upon conversations with elite freestyle snowboarders we briefly present insights into their perceptions of the various positions of coaches in professional snowboarding before we offer suggestions built upon a Problem-based learning approach for coaches interested in working with action sport athletes.

Anna-Liisa Ojala is a doctoral candidate with the Department of Sport Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Her study examines the careers of Finnish snowboarders. Her articles have appeared in scholarly journals, including European Journal for Sport and Society, and in popular journals of the Finnish sports field. She has been a freelance journalist for snowboarding magazines for several years.

Holly Thorpe is a senior lecturer with the Department of Sport and Leisure Studies, University of Waikato, New Zealand. Her research interests include action sports, youth culture, gender, media, social theory, and sport for development and peace. She is the co-editor of the Berkshire Encyclopedia of Extreme Sports (2007), the Greenwood Press series on Extreme Sports, and author of Snowboarding Bodies in Theory and Practice (2011) and Transnational Mobilities in Action Sport Cultures (2014). Address author correspondence to Anna-Liisa Ojala at

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