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There are few studies examining coaches’ awareness of their role in developing performance under pressure. This study has explored the application of implicit and explicit learning theory for skill execution under pressure through the understanding of coaches. Seven curling coaches who teach adult novices were interviewed using a semistructured approach. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to explore their experiences and beliefs around skill acquisition and pressure. Key factors that emerged from the analysis were the coaches’ lack of awareness of their role in developing skill execution under pressure and the importance of coach education in creating that awareness. The recognition of the pressure that players will face in games and the potential for implicit techniques to be employed by the coaches demonstrated positive prospects for the application of implicit/explicit skill acquisition theory. The coaches’ experiences highlighted aspects unique to curling that will need to be considered in progressing the study’s findings. The distinction between skill setup and execution was also raised by coaches and requires further study to identify whether it impacts the effectiveness of building robust skills and the resulting coaching advice. The study provides recommendations for application of the theory and suggestions for future research.
Cormack is with the Department of Psychology, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, United Kingdom. Gillman is with the School of Life Sciences and Education, Staffordshire University, Stoke on Trent, United Kingdom.