Thinking, Feeling, Acting: The Case of a Semi-Professional Soccer Coach

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 University of Hull
  • | 2 Edge Hill University
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This paper aimed to shed light on the emotional nature of practice in coaching. In particular, this article was designed to explore the relationship between emotion, cognition, and behavior in the coaching context, through a narrative exploration of Zach’s (a pseudonym) experiences as the head coach of a semiprofessional soccer team. Data for this study were collected through a series of in-depth semistructured interviews that were transcribed verbatim and subject to inductive analysis. Two embracing categories were identified in the interview data. The first demonstrated how Zach frequently concealed his true emotions and enacted others in an attempt to achieve his desired ends. The second highlighted how Zach’s past experiences as a player had influenced how he wished to portray himself to his squad, and, importantly, helped him to sympathize with the thoughts and feelings of his players. Here, Lazarus and Folkman’s (1986) cognitive appraisal theory, Denzin’s (1984) writings on understanding emotions, and Hochschild’s (1983) work on emotional labor were used to offer one suggested, but not conclusive, reading of the emotional aspects of Zach’s practice.

Nelson, Gilbourne, Allanson, Gale, and Marshall are with the Department of Sport, Health and Exercise Science, University of Hull, Hull, United Kingdom. Potrac is with Sport and Physical Activity, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, Lancashire, UK.

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