An Empirical Examination of U.K. Coaches’ Issues and Problems, and Their Support and Advice Networks

in International Sport Coaching Journal
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year subscription

USD  $41.00

1 year subscription

USD  $54.00

Student 2 year subscription

USD  $77.00

2 year subscription

USD  $101.00

Although there have been increasing calls to recognise the “voice of the coach” in both policy and research, there has been very little work that has asked the coaches directly: “what are your main issues and problems?” and “where do you go for support?” Instead, assessments and decisions have been made on these issues by the media, policy makers, support agencies, governing bodies, and researchers with results often reflecting the perspectives and interests of the latter. This paper presents new research with a reasonably representative sample of over 1,000 U.K. coaches that considers the issues and problems, and support networks from the perspective of the coaches themselves. The results suggest that coaches experience a wide range of problems but that they can be broken down into 17 main categories with places to play sport (e.g., facilities), problems with player–coach interaction, and problems with coaching knowledge and skills, being most frequently mentioned. In terms of support networks, the coaches tended to look “closest to home”: to themselves, their family/friends, participants and parents, and local coaching networks. Governing bodies and coaching associations tend to be less well used. Some implications for policy and practise are discussed.

North, Piggott, and Ashford are with the Research Centre for Sport Coaching, Carnegie School of Sport, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, United Kingdom. Rankin-Wright is with the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Durham University, Durham, United Kingdom.

North (j.north@leedsbeckett.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
  • Abraham, A., & Collins, D. (2011). Taking the next step: Ways forward for coaching science. Quest, 63, 366384. doi:

  • Abraham, A., Morgan, G., Muir, B., & Duffy, P. (2011). Understanding governing body readiness for level 4: A qualitative examination from 7 governing bodies. Leeds, UK: Leeds Metropolitan University.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Braun, V., Clarke, V., & Weate, P. (2016). Using thematic analysis in sport and exercise research. In B. Smith & A.C. Sparkes (Eds.), Routledge handbook of qualitative research in sport and exercise (pp. 191205). London, UK: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cabinet Office. (2015). Sporting future: A new strategy for an active nation. London, UK: Author.

  • Camiré, M., Trudel, P., & Forneris, T. (2014). Examining how model youth sport coaches learn to facilitate positive youth development. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 19(1), 117. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Collins, D., Abraham, A., & Collins, R. (2012). On vampires and wolves: Exposing and exploring reasons for the differential impact of coach education. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 43, 255271.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Curran, J., & Blackburn, R. (1994). Small firms and local economic networks: The death of the local economy? London, UK: Paul Chapman Publishing.

    • Export Citation
  • Cushion, C.J. (2013). Applying game centered approaches in coaching: A critical analysis of the ‘dilemmas of practice’ impacting change. Sports Coaching Review, 2(1), 6176. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cushion, C.J. (2016). Reflection and reflective practice discourses in coaching: A critical analysis. Sport, Education and Society, 23, 113.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cushion, C.J., & Jones, R.L. (2006). Power, discourse, and symbolic violence in professional youth soccer: The case of Albion Football Club. Sociology of Sport Journal, 23, 142161. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cushion, C.J., Nelson, L., Armour, K.M., Lyle, J., Jones, R.L., Sandford, R., & O’Callaghan, C. (2010). Coach learning and development: A review of the literature. Leeds, UK: Sports Coach UK.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cushion, C.J., & Townsend, R.C. (2018). Technology-enhanced learning in coaching: A review of literature. Educational Review, 71(5), 631649. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Department for Culture, Media and Sport. (2002). The coaching taskforce: Final report. London, UK: Author.

  • Duffy, P., North, J., Curado, J., & Petrovic, L. (2013). CoachNet: The further development of a coordinated network for Sport Coaching in Europe. A report for the European Union. Leeds, UK: Leeds Metropolitan University and the International Council for Coaching Excellence.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Duffy, P., North, J., & Muir, B. (2013). Understanding the impact of sport coaching on legacy. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 5(2), 165182. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Erickson, K., Bruner, M.W., MacDonald, D.J., & Côté, J. (2008). Gaining insight into actual and preferred sources of coaching knowledge. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 3(4), 527538. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fielding-Lloyd, B., & Meân, L. (2011). ‘I don’t think I can catch it’: Women, confidence and responsibility in football coach education. Soccer & Society, 12(3), 345364. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fletcher, T., Piggott, D., & North, J. (2017). ‘Problems at the boundary?’: South Asians, coaching and cricket. In J. Long, T. Fletcher, & R. Watson (Eds.), Sport, leisure and social justice (pp. 180193). London, UK: Routledge.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Grecic, D., & Collins, D. (2013). The epistemological chain: Practical applications in sports. Quest, 65(2), 151168. doi:

  • Harwood, C., Drew, A., & Knight, C.J. (2010). Parental stressors in professional youth football academies: A qualitative investigation of specialising stage parents. Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, 2(1), 3955. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hassanin, R., & Light, R. (2014). The influence of cultural context on rugby coaches’ beliefs about coaching. Sports Coaching Review, 3(2), 132144. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Holt, N.L., & Knight, C.J. (2014). Parenting in youth sport: From research to practice. London, UK: Routledge.

  • Horn, T.S. (2008). Coaching effectiveness in the sport domain. In T.S. Horn (Ed.), Advances in sport psychology (3rd ed., pp. 239267). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • International Council for Coaching Excellence. (2017). ICCE: Celebrating 20 years of global coaching development. Leeds, UK: Author.

  • International Council for Coaching Excellence, Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, & Leeds Beckett University. (2013). International sport coaching framework v1.2. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Irwin, G., Hanton, S., & Kerwin, D. (2004). Reflective practice and the origins of elite coaching knowledge. Reflective Practice, 5(3), 425442. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jones, R.L., Armour, K.M., & Potrac, P. (2004). Sports coaching cultures: From practice to theory. London, UK: Longman.

  • Jones, R.L., Potrac, P., Cushion, C., & Ronglan, L.T. (2011). The sociology of sports coaching. London, UK: Routledge.

  • Jones, R.L., & Wallace, M. (2005). Another bad day at the training ground: Coping with ambiguity in the coaching context. Sport, Education and Society, 8(2), 213229. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kay, T., Armour, K., Cushion, C., Thorpe, R., & Pielichaty, H. (2008). Sportnation research: Are we missing the coach for 2012? Loughborough, UK: Institute of Youth Sport.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kearney, P.E., Carson, H.J., & Collins, D. (2017). Implementing technical refinement in high-level athletics: Exploring the knowledge schemas of coaches. Journal of Sports Sciences, 36(10), 11181126.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kelley, B.C., & Baghurst, T. (2009). Development of the Coaching Issues Survey (CIS). Sport Psychologist, 23(3), 367387. doi:

  • Kidman, L., & Lombardo, B. (2010). Athlete centred coaching: Developing decision-makers. Worcester, UK: IPC Print Resources.

  • Lara-Bercial, S., North, J., Hämäläinen, K., Oltmanns, K., Minkhorst, J., & Petrovic, L. (2017). European sport coaching framework. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lyle, J. (2002). Sports coaching concepts: A framework for coaches’ behaviour. London, UK: Routledge.

  • Miles, M.B., Huberman, A.M., & Saldaña, J. (2020). Qualitative data analysis: A methods sourcebook (4th ed.). London, UK: Sage.

  • MORI. (2004). Sports coaching in the UK. Leeds, UK: Sports Coach UK.

  • Norman, L. (2010). Feeling second best: Elite women coaches’ experiences. Sociology of Sport Journal, 27(1), 89104. doi:

  • Norris, L.A., Didymus, F.F., & Kaiseler, M. (2017). Stressors, coping, and well-being among sports coaches: A systematic review. Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 33, 93112. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • North, J. (2009). The coaching workforce 2009–2016. Leeds, UK: Sports Coach UK.

    • Export Citation
  • North, J. (2010). Using ‘coach developers’ to facilitate coach learning and development: Qualitative evidence from the UK. International Journal of Sport Science & Coaching, 5(2), 239256. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • North, J. (2012). British Canoe Union participant survey. Bingham, UK: British Canoe Union.

  • North, J. (2017). Sport coaching research and practice: Ontology, interdisciplinarity, and critical realism. London, UK: Routledge.

  • North, J., Blackburn, R., & Curran, J. (1997). Reaching small businesses? Delivering advice and support to small business through trade bodies. In M. Ram, D. Deakins, & D. Smallbone (Eds.), (pp. 121135). London, UK: Paul Chapman Publishing.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • North, J., Piggott, D., Lara-Bercial, S., Abraham, A., & Muir, B. (2019). The professionalization of sport coaching. In R. Thelwell & M. Dicks (Eds.), Professional advances in sports coaching: Research and practice (pp. 321). London, UK: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pawson, R., & Tilley, N. (1997). Realistic evaluation. London, UK: Sage.

  • Piggott, D. (2012). Coaches’ experiences of formal coach education: A critical sociological investigation. Sport Education and Society, 17(4), 535554. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Reade, I., Rodgers, W., & Hall, N. (2008). Knowledge transfer: How do high performance coaches access the knowledge of sport scientists? International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching, 3(3), 319334. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sports Coach UK. (2008). The UK coaching framework: A 3–7–11 years action plan. Leeds, UK: Coachwise.

  • Sports Coach UK. (2011). Sports coaching in the UK III. Leeds, UK: Author.

  • Sports Coach UK. (2012). Coach tracking study: A four-year study of coaching in the UK. Leeds, UK: National Coaching Foundation.

  • Sports Council. (1991). Coaching matters: A review of coaching and coach education in the United Kingdom. London, UK: Author.

  • Sport England. (2016). Coaching in an active nation: The coaching plan for England. London, UK: Author.

  • Stoszkowski, J., & Collins, D. (2016). Sources, topics and use of knowledge by coaches. Journal of Sports Sciences, 34(9), 794802. PubMed ID: 26222481 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Timson-Katchis, M., & North, J. (2008). UK coach tracking study: Year one headline report. Leeds, UK: Sports Coach UK.

  • Timson-Katchis, M., & North, J. (2010). UK coach tracking study: Year two headline report. Leeds, UK: Sports Coach UK.

  • Townend, R., & North, J. (2007). Sporting coaching in the UK II. Leeds: Sports Coach UK.

  • UK Sport. (2001). The UK vision for coaching. London, UK: Author.

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 76 76 30
Full Text Views 8 8 0
PDF Downloads 6 6 0