Informing Coaches’ Practices: Toward an Application of Foucault’s Ethics

in International Sport Coaching Journal
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  • 1 University of Alberta
  • 2 University of Auckland
  • 3 University of Otago
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Progress and improvement in sport is often the result of some type of change. However, change for change sake is not always beneficial. Therefore, to be an effective ‘change agent’ a coach must be able to problematize his or her actions and assess why or why not a change might be needed. Accordingly, helping coaches become active problematizers is vital to the change process. Toward this end, we present in this paper our reflections as coach developers and coaches who considered how to apply Michel Foucault’s understanding of ethics to make self-change a positive force for enhancing athletes’ experiences. We then conclude by suggesting how coach developers might begin to incorporate Foucault’s work into the development of coaches capable of producing change that matters.

Jim Denison is an associate professor in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta, Canada. A sport sociologist and coach educator, his research examines the formation of coaches’ practices through a Foucauldian lens.

Richard Pringle is an associate professor in the Faculty of Education, University of Auckland in Aotearoa New Zealand. His critical qualitative research interests span the sociology of sport, sport pedagogy, sport history and coach education.

Tania Cassidy is an associate professor in the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Otago in Aotearoa New Zealand. Her research interests are in the social, cultural and pedagogical aspects of sports coaching and coach development.

Paul Hessian is a senior research fellow in the Department of Medicine at the University of Otago where she is active in inflammation research. He is a former coach of the New Zealand Universities Rugby team.

Address author correspondence to Jim Denison at

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