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Developing the Triad of Knowledge in Coaching: Think Aloud as a Reflective Tool Within a Category 1 Football Academy

Laura Swettenham and Amy E. Whitehead

The current study aimed to explore the perceptions of football academy coaches on their use of a novel reflective tool (Think Aloud [TA]) and to understand if this can support the development of knowledge within coaches. Eight male coaches (M age = 36) employed full time at a Category 1 football academy within the United Kingdom took part. All coaches attended a 2-hr workshop on the use of TA as a reflective tool, with the opportunity to practice TA while coaching. Participants were interviewed on their perceptions of TA as a reflective tool using a semistructured approach. Data were analyzed abductively, which allowed the generation of initial codes and the involvement of the triad of knowledge (professional, interpersonal, and intrapersonal knowledge), which has been adopted within coaching and identified as an approach to developing coaching expertise, within the analysis process. Findings suggest that all three types of knowledge can be developed through the use of TA, with subthemes identified within each type of knowledge: professional knowledge (player and coach development and session design), interpersonal knowledge (communication and relationships), and intrapersonal knowledge (biases, self-awareness, and reflection). This research offers a novel perspective on coach development through the implementation of TA, with potential to support the development of coaching knowledge and expertise.

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“Suspended Above, and in Action”: Think Aloud as a Reflective Practice Tool

James Stephenson, Colum Cronin, and Amy E. Whitehead

Think Aloud (TA) involves an individual verbalising his or her thoughts throughout the duration of a task. A case study approach examined the experiences of one football coach (Dave) as he engaged in four coaching sessions using TA. Dave completed four reflective diaries, supported by an overall narrative account, TA transcriptions, and two interviews. The aim of the case study was to gain a deeper understanding of Dave’s experiences of using TA in his context. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was utilised and revealed a superordinate theme of “suspended above himself” and actively engaging in the coaching session, which reflects the essence of TA for Dave. This metaphor captures the view that the TA process enabled Dave to move between analysing his own performance as if suspended above himself, and engaging in the action of the coaching session. Five subordinate themes were also generated: improved self-awareness, pedagogy, communication skills, feelings of apprehension, and distraction. These findings provide a rich description of the experience of TA and a novel glimpse into the potential pitfalls associated with TA that will inform coach educators. A further significant contribution is provided by highlighting relevant theoretical considerations that will inform future studies.

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“But I Am a Runner”: Trying to Be a Rogerian Person-Centered Practitioner With an Injured Athlete

Steven Vaughan, Hayley E. McEwan, and Amy E. Whitehead

This reflective case study presents the experience of a trainee sport and exercise psychologist during a period of applied consultancy with an injured runner. This was the trainee’s first consultancy experience attempting to practice from a Rogerian/classic person-centered perspective. As a trainee, his sport psychology delivery process followed academic and professional training models. After identifying an incongruence relating to the client’s identity as a runner, Rogers’s rejection of formulation and intervention led to tensions. Drawing on sport and counseling psychology literature to guide reflection and approach, maintaining a relationship between client and practitioner consistent with Rogers’s necessary conditions of change was the intervention. The trainee’s reflections consider being challenged by conflicts between philosophy and training requirements, their limited practice experience, and responding to the client during sessions that sometimes felt inconsistent with person-centered principles. Ultimately, the client reported moving toward being a more authentic self by contextualizing running as only one aspect of their life.

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“Think Aloud” as a Facilitator of Self-Regulation in Golfers

Phil D.J. Birch, Beth Yeoman, and Amy E. Whitehead

Think Aloud (TA) has been used as a tool to promote self-regulation and reflection in coaches, yet it has not been employed in the same context to support athletes. The aim of the present study was to understand golfers’ perceptions of using TA at two time points: immediately postperformance and after a 6- to 8-week reflection period. Six golfers (five male, one female; age: M = 30.8 years, SD = 14.8; handicap: M = 6.92, SD = 3.9) used TA during the performance on six holes of golf and listened back to their TA audio. Using semistructured interviews and subsequent thematic analyses, we generated four themes: increased awareness, awareness of how behavior influences performance, disruption of thought processes and performance, and application to coaching. Preliminary evidence provides support for TA as a potential tool to promote self-regulation in golfers, which could be used to inform coaching interventions.

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“He’s Asked for You. . . . ” One-to-One Support With an Elite Academy Soccer Player and Navigating Through the Unforeseen Roles of Sport Psychology Practitioners

Lauren Garner, Hayley McEwan, and Amy Whitehead

This case study outlines the holistic development of an adolescent soccer player, placing focus on the welfare of the individual first and the performer second. The client was seeking support as family life disturbances were having a negative impact on his mental health and general well-being. In addition, scholarship decisions were imminent, and the client felt that his performance had deteriorated. An introduction to the practitioner and client is provided, along with an account of the challenging and anxiety-provoking process encountered. Practitioner reflections are embedded throughout, and recommendations for other trainee sport psychology practitioners are provided. This case highlights the potentially unforeseen roles that sport psychology practitioners may, at times, play to best support their clients. It demonstrates the benefit of seeking guidance and support from supervisors and collaborating with other members of a multidisciplinary team, as well as the importance of having a clearly defined philosophy of practice to ensure that one is working from a place of congruence.

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A Penny for Your Thoughts: Athletes’ and Trainee Sport Psychologists’ Internal Dialogue During Consultations

David Tod, Hayley E. McEwan, Amy E. Whitehead, and Daryl Marchant

The purpose of this study was to explore the internal dialogue of trainee sport psychologists (TSPs) and athletes immediately following athlete–practitioner consultations. TSPs (four male and three female, age 22–32 years) and athletes (four male, three female, age 19–29 years) completed a thought-listing procedure twice, while watching video recordings of their previous consultations. The thought-listing procedure involved participants’ pausing the video to record the in-session internal dialogue they had experienced during the consultation. Participants’ responses were categorized into six dimensions: time, place, focus, locus, orientation, and mode. TSPs’ and athletes’ retrospective accounts provided evidence that their in-session internal dialogue was (a) present focused, (b) about in-session material, (c) about the athletes or themselves, (d) about internal and external events, (e) professional (i.e., related to the session), and (f) neutral. Findings provide trainees and inexperienced practitioners with insights into the thought content of TSPs and athletes to guide their own athlete interactions.