‘Think Aloud’: Toward a Framework To Facilitate Reflective Practice Amongst Rugby League Coaches

in International Sport Coaching Journal
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  • 1 Liverpool John Moores University
  • 2 Cardiff Metropolitan University
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This study aimed to design, implement and evaluate a protocol encompassing Think Aloud (TA) as a technique to facilitate reflection-in-action and delayed reflection-on-action to aid coach learning. Six British, male rugby league coaches, who reported little previous exposure to reflective practice, consented to participate. Participants were: (a) instructed on how to engage in TA; (b) observed in practice using TA; (c) provided with individual support on delayed reflective practice on their first coaching session and use of TA; (d) observed in practice using TA a second time; and (e) engaged in a social validation interview regarding their experiences of TA. Analysis of in-action verbalizations revealed a shift from descriptive verbalizations to a deeper level of reflection. Both immediate and post eight week social validation interviews revealed that coaches developed an increased awareness, enhanced communication, and pedagogical development. The participants also recommended that TA can be a valuable tool for: (a) collecting in-event data during a coaching session; and (b) developing and evidencing reflection for coaches. Future recommendations were also provided by the participants and consequently, this study offers a unique technique to reflective practice that has the potential to meet the learning development needs of coaches.

Amy Whitehead is a senior lecturer in sport coaching and physical education at Liverpool John Moores University. She holds a PhD in sport psychology and her research focus is on the use of Think Aloud protocol (TA) in athlete decision making and coach education. She is also a consultant for many sport organizations, developing programs and working with athletes to enhance performance.

Brendan Cropley is a principal lecturer in sport coaching and sport psychology at Cardiff Metropolitan University, Wales. He has been a BASES Accredited Sport & Exercise Scientist (Psychology) since 2007 and a Chartered Scientist since 2014 and completed his PhD in reflective and effective practice in 2009. He is also a Level 4 football coach and coach educator.

Tabo Huntley is a senior lecturer and researcher in sport coaching at Liverpool John Moores University. As a high performance coach he has coached medallists at European, World and Paralympic level. He has a keen interest in the development of coach and athlete expertise and has provided consultancy across a number of coaching systems.

Andy Miles is a principal lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales and is actively involved in the professional development of trainee sport and exercise scientists and sport coaches. He works and researches in the areas of reflective practice, mentoring and coach development.

Laura Quayle is a PhD researcher at Liverpool John Moores University, and holds a master’s degree in Sports Coaching. She specialises in sports coaching research and is currently research active in the area of coach behaviours and exploring new methods to enhance coach education. She has previously supported research in sport and physical activity behaviour change, cycling and coaching practice using Think Aloud protocol analysis.

Zoe Knowles is a HCPC registered Sport and Exercise Psychologist in the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University. She has undertaken research exploring reflective practice as a means of practitioner development within professions allied to medicine, teacher education, sports science and sports coaching.

Address author correspondence to Amy Whitehead at A.E.Whitehead@ljmu.ac.uk.