Coaches working with Masters Athletes (MAs) are tasked with facilitating learning and enhancing performance and quality of experience specifically for an adult cohort. In education, the Andragogy in Practice Model (APM) characterizes adult learners and provides teachers with principles for how to best facilitate learning (Knowles, Holton III, & Swanson, 2012). The purpose of the current study was to explore how coaches describe approaches with their MAs to discover how they align with andragogical principles. Eleven coaches were interviewed regarding their approaches in working with Masters swimmers. Data were thematically analyzed according to the six APM principles. The results revealed the bidirectional pattern of communication between the coaches and MAs, the coaches’ awareness of the athletes’ matured self-concept and prior experiences, the personalized goal oriented approach, the various approaches coaches used to motivate, and strategies that the coaches used to prepare MAs for training. The findings suggest that coaches who reported approaches in keeping with andragogical principles more effectively accommodated their MAs’ interests. When their approaches countered the principles, there appeared to be a disconnect between the coaches’ approaches and the MAs’ preferences. Together, these results provide evidence of the importance of coaches’ understanding of adult learning principles when coaching MAs.
Bettina Callary is an associate professor of communities and connections, sport and physical activity leadership at Cape Breton University and an adjunct professor in the School of Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa. She received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for her research program on coaching masters athletes, including topics in coach education, learning, and development, long-term athlete development, and qualitative research methods. She is a member of the editorial board for ISCJ, and an alpine ski coach and coach developer.
Scott Rathwell is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Ottawa and a recipient of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Joseph-Armand Bombardier doctoral Canada Graduate Scholarship for his research on coaching.
Bradley W. Young is as associate professor in the School of Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa. He publishes on topics relating to the psycho-social aspects of lifelong sport participation, the effective programming of adult sport, and messaging to promote adult sport. His research focuses on how and why older sportspersons commit to sport, barriers to participation, the influence of age-related perceptions, and instructional approaches with older sportspersons.