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Traditionally, playing experience in sport has been used as a springboard into the coaching profession. Specifically, playing experience has been discussed in research as facilitating the transition into early coaching roles, fast-tracking through coach education programs, and being viewed as a desirable factor in high-performance sport. However, explorations into the intricacies that make this playing experience so valuable have been minimal. Thus, this Insights article is meant to foster discussion within the coach research community regarding the role of playing experience in coaching pathways from a position perspective. This unique area of inquiry may offer insight to those concerned with coach pathways, coach development, and coach education. To promote this discussion, the following article will present some avenues through which previous playing experience could be explored. In addition, the authors will present a study that was conducted with high-performance head ice hockey coaches who formerly played goaltender and offer interesting directions for future research inquiries. Notably, the authors will consider playing experience in connection with career advancement, potential implications for hiring processes, considerations for coach education, and possible barriers to coaching opportunities.
The authors are with the Department of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada.