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.
Developing Specialised Youth Soccer Coaching Qualifications: An Exploratory Study of Course Content and Delivery Mechanisms
David Adams, Brendan Cropley, and Richard Mullen
Barriers to Delivering Extracurricular School Sport and Physical Activity in Wales: A Qualitative Study of 5x60 Officers’ Views and Perspectives
Paul Rainer, Robert Griffiths, Brendan Cropley, and Stuart Jarvis
In light of recent reports, schools must be realistic in that physical activity recommendations cannot be met through curriculum PE alone. However, extracurricular PE and school sport has the potential to further promote physical activity in adolescents. Consequently, the Welsh Government, UK, proposed through its Climbing Higher strategy (2006) for secondary school children to achieve 60 minutes of physical activity a day. This was implemented through Sport Wales and the 5×60 scheme.
This study aimed to examine the experiences of the 5×60 officers responsible for implementing the program, with a view to gain an understanding of the barriers associated with increasing participation in physical activity. Officers from 14 unitary authorities across Wales were interviewed using a socioecological approach that considered the impact of: personal behaviors, physical environment, social environment, and policy.
Participants reported a number of challenges affecting the delivery of the program, including: availability of facilities, lack of support from senior management, time, and conflict with PE staff.
This study suggests that current methods used by personnel to facilitate extracurricular school sport may not be the most appropriate, and future direction should consider the place and contribution of physical activity to young people’s lives.
Exploring the Relationship Between Effective and Reflective Practice in Applied Sport Psychology
Brendan Cropley, Sheldon Hanton, Andy Miles, and Ailsa Niven
This study offers an investigation into the concept of effective practice in applied sport psychology (ASP) with emphasis being placed upon the role that reflective practice may have in helping practitioners to develop the effectiveness of their service delivery. Focus groups (n = 2), consisting of accredited and trainee sport psychologists, were conducted to generate a working definition of effective practice, and discuss the concept of effectiveness development through engagement in reflective practices. The resulting definition encapsulated a multidimensional process involving reflection-on-practice. Initial support for the definition was gained through consensus validation involving accredited sport psychologists (n = 34) who agreed with the notion that although effectiveness is context specific it is related to activities designed to meet client needs. Reflective practice emerged as a vital component in the development of effectiveness, with participants highlighting that reflection is intrinsically linked to service delivery, and a key tool for experiential learning.
Improving the Delivery of Applied Sport Psychology Support through Reflective Practice
Brendan Cropley, Andrew Miles, Sheldon Hanton, and Ailsa Niven
This article offers an exploration of factors that influence the effectiveness of applied sport psychology delivery through reflection on a series of consulting experiences. Knowledge gained by a British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) trainee sport psychologist (Cropley), through a process of reflective practice during the first year of supervised experience, is presented around a number of themes that have emerged from current literature regarding the characteristics of effective service providers (A. Anderson, A. Miles, P. Robinson, & C. Mahoney, 2004). It is argued that reflection improves self-awareness and generates knowledge in action that can enhance the delivery of applied sport psychology. Support is therefore provided for the adoption of reflective practice as a tool for personal and professional development.
A Longitudinal Examination of Stress and Mental Ill-/Well-Being in Elite Football Coaches
Lee Baldock, Brendan Cropley, Stephen D. Mellalieu, and Rich Neil
A novel concurrent, independent mixed-methods research design was adopted to explore elite association football coaches’ stress and mental ill-/well-being experiences over the course of an entire season. Elite coaches (N = 18) completed measures of perceived stressor severity, coping effectiveness, and mental ill-/well-being, with a sample (n = 8) also participating in semistructured interviews, across four time points. Linear mixed-model and retroductive analyses revealed (a) lower mental well-being at the beginning of the season due to negative appraisals/responses to stressors and ineffective coping attempts, (b) higher emotional exhaustion and depersonalization at the end of the season, (c) stressors high in severity led to decreased mental well-being (unless coaches coped effectively) and increased symptoms associated with burnout, and (d) ineffective coping attempts led to increased emotional exhaustion. These findings offer novel insight into the specific components of elite football coaches’ stress experiences influencing their mental ill-/well-being over time.
Stress and Mental Well-Being Experiences of Professional Football Coaches
Lee Baldock, Brendan Cropley, Rich Neil, and Stephen D. Mellalieu
The stress experiences and their impact upon the daily lives and mental well-being of English Premier League professional (soccer) football coaches were explored using an in-depth qualitative design. Eight participants were interviewed using a semi-structured approach with thematic and causal network analysis revealing that (a) a range of contextually dependent demands were experienced and interpreted in relation to their situational properties; (b) many demands were appraised and emotionally responded to in a negative manner; (c) a range of coping strategies were adopted to cope with stress experiences, with many reported as ineffective; and (d) stress experiences often led to negative implications for their daily lives and eudaimonic and hedonic well-being. Positive adaptations to some demands experienced were reported and augmented perceptions of mental well-being. The findings of this study make a novel and significant contribution to understanding the interrelationships between the principal components of the stress process and the prospective links between stress and mental well-being.
‘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.
Coping With the Demands of Professional Practice: Sport Psychology Consultants’ Perspectives
Brendan Cropley, Lee Baldock, Stephen D. Mellalieu, Rich Neil, Christopher Robert David Wagstaff, and Ross Wadey
This study aimed to gain an insight into the general coping strategies used by sport psychology consultants (SPCs) based in the UK, and an in-depth understanding of their development and impact. To achieve these aims a mixed-method approach was adopted by means of two linked studies. In study one, BASES accredited and/or BPS chartered SPCs (n = 29) completed the modified COPE inventory (Crocker & Graham, 1995) to gain a better understanding of the general coping strategies used by practitioners. In study two, follow-up interviews (n = 6) with participants sampled from study one were conducted to explore how the reported strategies were developed, the perceived impact of coping/not coping with stressors, and how future SPCs may be better prepared for the stressful nature of consultancy. Findings suggested that the participants had a statistically significant preference to using problem-focused coping strategies. Further, the interviews suggested that coping strategies were primarily developed through reflection on experiences in different contexts. The impacts of coping/not coping and the practical development implications raised are discussed.