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Bettina Callary and Brian Gearity

As the editors of the special issue for coach developers, we have rounded out the research-based articles within this issue by seeking the perspectives of practitioners worldwide on what it means to be a coach developer in their respective countries. We ask three simple questions that are answered directly by active coach developers. Their answers bring to light the reality of coach developers’ experiences and their interests in the advancement of the field within the near future. In this short article, practitioners from countries in Africa, South America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania provide valuable input in understanding this burgeoning field.

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Brian T. Gearity, Bettina Callary and Phillip Fulmer

The purpose of this study was to explore former NCAA FBS National Champion football coach Phillip Fulmer’s biography to understand how his knowledge and practices were learned from various sociocultural experiences. The participant, Phillip Fulmer, former head football coach of the University of Tennessee (UT; 1992–2008), participated in multiple sports as a youth, played football at UT, and coached for over 30 years. A qualitative case study design with in-depth interviews was used to understand his experiences and developmental path as he learned to coach. The findings reveal four key developmental stages: athlete, graduate assistant, assistant coach, and head coach. Fulmer’s earliest learning experiences would later guide his coaching beliefs, values, and actions.

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Bettina Callary, Scott Rathwell and Bradley W. Young

Masters Athletes (MAs; adult athletes typically over 35 years old who prepare in order to compete at levels ranging from very recreational competition to serious competition) want coaches to cater their approaches to working with adults. Using adult learning principles, we previously found that some coaches cater their approaches in ways to accommodate the manner in which adult athletes prefer to learn. The purpose of this article is to articulate swim coaches’ perceptions of how they learned to work with MAs and whether their formal coach training meets their needs related to coaching MAs. Eleven swim coaches were interviewed regarding how they learned to coach MAs, and were questioned specifically about their coach development broadly and coach education specifically. The data were thematically analyzed and results revealed six main learning sources: coaching experiences (e.g., interacting with MAs, reflection, advice from MAs, coaching youth), experience as an athlete, reading books and Internet searches, networks and mentors, formal coach education, and non-swimming experiences. Results also revealed key themes about coaches’ perceptions regarding coach education, specifically the lack of connection between coach education programs and the Masters sport context, and coaches’ interest in coach education specific to MAs.

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Bettina Callary, Scott Rathwell and Bradley W. Young

Coaches working with Masters Athletes (MAs) are tasked with facilitating learning and enhancing performance and quality of experience specifically for an adult cohort. In education, the Andragogy in Practice Model (APM) characterizes adult learners and provides teachers with principles for how to best facilitate learning (Knowles, Holton III, & Swanson, 2012). The purpose of the current study was to explore how coaches describe approaches with their MAs to discover how they align with andragogical principles. Eleven coaches were interviewed regarding their approaches in working with Masters swimmers. Data were thematically analyzed according to the six APM principles. The results revealed the bidirectional pattern of communication between the coaches and MAs, the coaches’ awareness of the athletes’ matured self-concept and prior experiences, the personalized goal oriented approach, the various approaches coaches used to motivate, and strategies that the coaches used to prepare MAs for training. The findings suggest that coaches who reported approaches in keeping with andragogical principles more effectively accommodated their MAs’ interests. When their approaches countered the principles, there appeared to be a disconnect between the coaches’ approaches and the MAs’ preferences. Together, these results provide evidence of the importance of coaches’ understanding of adult learning principles when coaching MAs.

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Bettina Callary, Chelsea Currie and Bradley W. Young

Research into the Masters (or adult) sport context has revealed important socially mediated participatory motives for Masters athletes, including a strong connection between their learning in sport and the relationships they have with their coaches. The purpose of this insights article was to identify and describe links between relevant relational perspectives in sport coaching and dominant themes extracted from research pertaining to the psychosocial aspects of coaching adults. Three theoretical perspectives are purposively explored: interdependence theory, humanistic coaching, and andragogy. We considered how these parallel bodies of literature ascribe to the particularities of coaching adults to provide insight on how to frame effective coaching approaches and coach–athlete interrelations for this unique athletic sample. We make the case for ongoing research using an andragogical model of coaching in Masters sport in understanding how coaching Masters athletes is a complex and nuanced phenomenon.

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Bradley W. Young, Bettina Callary and Peter C. Niedre

In the new frontier of Masters-level sport, coaching approaches with adult athletes may prove to be quite different than with younger cohorts, and therefore demanding of novel and innovative considerations. This paper draws from emerging perspectives in research on Masters athletes (MAs) and interpretations of broader psycho-social and -pedagogical literature to advance an early roadmap guiding practical strategies for coaches and sport programmers to consider when working with MAs. We explore four content areas that may be particularly relevant for coaches working with adult sportspersons, and for future researchers seeking to confirm where coaching practices with MAs may be highly nuanced. They include: (a) tailoring the sport environment to fulfill adults’ involvement opportunities and heighten athlete commitment; (b) helping adult athletes maximize their limited time for doing sport; (c) guiding athletes to use strategies for negotiating age-related decline; and (d) fostering self-determined and engaged learners in the Masters sport context.

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Christoph Szedlak, Matthew Smith, Melissa Day and Bettina Callary

This study explored which strength and conditioning (S&C) coaching behaviors and characteristics are perceived as effective by elite athletes and how these influence the athletes. A secondary aim was to consider the development and usefulness of vignettes to elicit new knowledge. Ten elite athletes reflected on scenarios presented in vignettes. Resulting themes were divided into the processes and factors influencing athletes and how the athletes are affected. The athletes considered these themes effective because the coach had built an environment of trust and respect. How coaches might influence athletes were divided into cognitive influences and behavioral influences. The results are discussed in light of current sport coaching literature, and the way vignettes enhance the richness of the data collection is reflected on. Practically, the results suggest that S&C coaches can build trust and respect to influence athletes’ development through effective instruction, communication, and motivation.

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Christoph Szedlak, Matthew J. Smith, Bettina Callary and Melissa C. Day

Research has shown that vignettes are useful in disseminating complex and applied information to practitioners with research mainly utilising written and audio vignettes to disseminate good practice. The current study examined the utility of a research-based vignette, presented in different formats (written, audio, video), to disseminate information to elite strength and conditioning (S&C) coaches. A single vignette was developed in three formats: a written, an audio, and a video vignette. The vignette involved an experienced S&C coach as the main character, and the plot outlined how this S&C coach aimed to learn more about effective coaching. Nineteen elite S&C coaches reflected on the utility of different vignette formats. Data were analysed using a thematic analysis. Overall, the results suggest that vignettes are useful in translating knowledge and encourage action, regardless of which format is used. Furthermore, the S&C coaches reported a preference for the video format, due to the video’s ability to communicate emotional, verbal and non-verbal behaviours. Practically, the vignette prompted the S&C coaches to reflect on areas such as coaching philosophy and values resulting in initial changes in their coaching practice.

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Christoph Szedlak, Matthew J. Smith, Bettina Callary and Melissa C. Day

The purpose of this study was to identify narrative types that illuminate how strength and conditioning (S&C) coaches used video vignettes in a guided reflection process to support the development of effective coaching practices. At the beginning of each week, over a 4-week period, 11 elite S&C coaches were sent a short video vignette clip of an S&C coach’s practice. They subsequently engaged in daily reflections in which they were guided to explore how the topic of the vignette aligned (or not) with their coaching practice. After the intervention, each S&C coach was interviewed regarding their process of learning from the vignette and from their reflections. Using a holistic narrative analysis of form and structure, the results exemplified three narrative types: performance, achievement, and helper. The S&C coaches whose reflections fitted the performance narrative type focused on their own practice, with limited consideration of the athletes’ perspective or the vignette. The S&C coaches whose reflections fitted the achievement narrative type strove to accomplish goals with their athletes and were selective in considering the vignette. The S&C coaches whose reflections fit the helper narrative type found that the vignette helped them consider an athlete-centered coaching approach focusing on the athletes’ well-being, as well as athletic abilities. Thus, S&C coach developers should utilize a guided reflection process that focuses on encouraging a coaching approach based on the helper narrative type.