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Principles of Good Assessment Practice in Coach Education: An Initial Proposal

Liam McCarthy, Hans Vangrunderbeek, and David Piggott

Despite its obvious importance, we argue that assessment as a feature of coach education programmes has been overlooked in the peer-reviewed published literature. As a result, it is suggested that approaches to assessing sport coaches within coach education programmes can sometimes be ill considered and lead to suboptimal experiences for multiple stakeholders. To address this problem situation, we tentatively propose five interconnected principles of assessment in the first section of this article. These include the integration of teaching, learning, and assessment; assessment as a means of developing metacognitive skills; authentic/practice-based assessment; clearly and transparently foregrounding success criteria; and collaboration within assessment activities. By considering these principles, we suggest that there is much to be gained by the coach education community. In the second section, we showcase how these principles have been adopted within a football coach education programme in Flanders (Belgium). With this example, we explain why assessment became a central concern of the organisation and how they developed an effective assessment approach. Finally, we invite considered discussion and comments on our paper, with a view to starting a conversation in an area that is scarcely spoken about.

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Shooting for Lithuania: Migration, National Identity and Men’s Basketball in the East of England

Adam B. Evans and David Piggott

The accession of the ‘A8 states’ into the European Union initiated considerable migration into Western Europe. The impact upon local communities has seen significant attention, yet little research exists that focuses upon migrant experiences and identity specifically in sport. This study used a figurational framework to investigate the lived experiences of basketball among male Lithuanian migrants in the rural east of England. Semistructured interviews highlighted participants’ motivations to migrate, their acculturation experiences and the role that basketball played during their sojourn. Participants considered basketball a significant means for the expression of national identity and as a focus for their resistance to local racializing processes. Conversely, conflict with established local basketball communities and perceptions of marginalization among migrants were common, creating divisions in local basketball competitions.

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“Active” and “Passive” Coach Pathways: Elite Athletes’ Entry Routes Into High-Performance Coaching Roles

Alexander David Blackett, Adam B. Evans, and David Piggott

This study sought to analyse the lived experiences of so-called “fast-tracked” coaches from men’s association football and rugby union by seeking to understand how these individuals prepared for and then transitioned into a post-athletic coaching career. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 male coaches. All participants were former elite athletes and had followed a fast-tracked pathway into their current post-athletic coaching roles. Participants were based in England and had retired from an athletic career within 12 months of being interviewed. Two general categories of “active” and “passive” coach pathways were identified for the career trajectory. Active coaches purposefully prepared for a coaching career during their athletic careers, whereas passive coaches did not. Passive coaches’ decisions to become a coach were often reactive and made after retiring from a competitive athletic career. Results indicate that only the career trajectory of passive coaches reflects a fast-track pathway. None of the active or passive coaches negotiated any formalised recruitment processes into their first post-athletic coaching roles. The suggestion is that prejudicial recruitment practices are enacted by senior club management which creates a homogenous coaching workforce. This furthers the need for greater governance of high-performance coach recruitment within England for these sports.

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Psychological Skills and Characteristics Facilitative of Youth Athletes’ Development: A Systematic Review

Lea-Cathrin Dohme, David Piggott, Susan Backhouse, and Gareth Morgan

Research has identified psychological skills and characteristics (PSCs) perceived to facilitate talented youth athletes’ development. However, no systematic categorization or synthesis of these PSCs exists to date. To provide such synthesis, this systematic review aimed to identify PSCs perceived as facilitative of talented youth athletes’ development, group and label synonymous PSCs, and categorize PSCs based on definitions established by Dohme, Backhouse, Piggott, and Morgan (2017). PRISMA systematic-review guidelines were employed and a comprehensive literature search of SPORTDiscus, PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, and ERIC completed in November 2017. Twenty-five empirical studies published between 2002 and 2017 met the inclusion criteria. Through thematic analysis, 19 PSCs were identified as facilitative of youth athletes’ development—8 were categorized as psychological skills (e.g., goal setting, social-support seeking, and self-talk) and 11 as psychological characteristics (e.g., self-confidence, focus, and motivation). The practical implications of these findings are discussed.

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

Julian North, David Piggott, Alexandra Rankin-Wright, and Michael Ashford

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.

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Fostering Psychosocial Characteristics Within an English Soccer Academy

Tom O. Mitchell, Ian H.J. Cowburn, David Piggott, Martin A. Littlewood, Tony Cook, and Kevin Till

The possession of certain psychosocial characteristics can offer performance advantages in a range of domains. However, integrating a program to support the development of psychosocial characteristics is a lengthy process and involves context-specific knowledge and effective working relationships with stakeholders. The aim of this article is to present a real-life example of the design, delivery, and implementation of a theoretically informed psychosocial development program for players within an academy soccer setting to include player workshops, coach delivery, and ways to influence the environment. This multifaceted approach included formal and informal meetings, observations, coach education, and social media groups. Initial reflections suggested workshops are an effective method to “teach” some of the aspects within the program. Integrating coaches throughout design and implementation is recommended. Key stakeholders should consider investing time in education for coaches to develop strategies to foster psychosocial development in their players. Limitations and future recommendations are discussed.

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Integrating Psychosocial Skill and Characteristic Development Into an English Academy Soccer Coaching Program: A Preliminary Investigation

Tom O. Mitchell, Ian H.J. Cowburn, Dave B. Alder, Kevin Till, Martin A. Littlewood, Tony Cook, and David Piggott

This study aimed to assess the impact of a psychosocial development program on academy soccer players with coaches being central design and delivery. The 8 Pillars program (designed to foster Communication, Control, Commitment, Confidence, Concentration, Resilience, Presence, and Self-awareness) was delivered through player workshops, coaching practice, and coach-led environmental manipulation. A total of 25 academy soccer players (M age 14.7 ± 0.3) completed the Psychological Characteristics of Development Excellence Questionnaire-2 pre- and postseason, and a self-report scale for each of the eight prescribed psychosocial skills and characteristics at five time points across the season. Significant (p < .05) improvement between pre- and postseason for “Imagery and Active Preparation,” “Seeking and Using Social Support,” and “Active Coping” factors within the Psychological Characteristics of Development Excellence Questionnaire-2 were evident. Significant (p < .05) improvements were shown for “Communication,” “Control,” “Commitment,” “Concentration,” and “Resilience” scales across the season. These findings give initial efficacy that a targeted, multifaceted program, largely delivered by coaches, can improve player self-reported psychosocial skills and characteristics in a U.K. academy soccer setting.

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Sergio Lara-Bercial, A.J. Rankin-Wright, Jason Tee, Fieke Rongen, Tom Mitchell, Mike Ashford, David Piggott, and Kevin Till