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Developing Specialised Youth Soccer Coaching Qualifications: An Exploratory Study of Course Content and Delivery Mechanisms

David Adams, Brendan Cropley, and Richard Mullen

The purpose of the current study was to empirically examine the potential course content, structure, and delivery mechanisms for a dedicated elite youth coach education programme in football (soccer) in the UK. By achieving this aim it was the intention of the authors to use the findings of this study for the future development of a customised coach education programme. Fifteen elite coaches, working in youth football at the time of the study, participated in one of three focus groups. Emerging from content analysis procedures, the findings placed specific importance on the development of an athlete-centred coaching philosophy, a focus on behaviours and activities associated with positive youth development, a movement away from traditional practices, and the development of the skills required to learn through reflective practice. In addition, a range of pedagogical approaches, including social approaches to learning, mentoring, and blended learning, were highlighted as ways to better deliver education programmes.

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‘Think Aloud’: Toward a Framework To Facilitate Reflective Practice Amongst Rugby League Coaches

Amy Elizabeth Whitehead, Brendan Cropley, Tabo Huntley, Andy Miles, Laura Quayle, and Zoe Knowles

This study aimed to design, implement and evaluate a protocol encompassing Think Aloud (TA) as a technique to facilitate reflection-in-action and delayed reflection-on-action to aid coach learning. Six British, male rugby league coaches, who reported little previous exposure to reflective practice, consented to participate. Participants were: (a) instructed on how to engage in TA; (b) observed in practice using TA; (c) provided with individual support on delayed reflective practice on their first coaching session and use of TA; (d) observed in practice using TA a second time; and (e) engaged in a social validation interview regarding their experiences of TA. Analysis of in-action verbalizations revealed a shift from descriptive verbalizations to a deeper level of reflection. Both immediate and post eight week social validation interviews revealed that coaches developed an increased awareness, enhanced communication, and pedagogical development. The participants also recommended that TA can be a valuable tool for: (a) collecting in-event data during a coaching session; and (b) developing and evidencing reflection for coaches. Future recommendations were also provided by the participants and consequently, this study offers a unique technique to reflective practice that has the potential to meet the learning development needs of coaches.