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Christoph Szedlak, Jo Batey, Matthew J. Smith, and Matthew Church

This study aimed to examine elite, experienced strength and conditioning (S&C) coaches’ reflections on the effectiveness of psychosocial behaviors in S&C coaching. In particular, this study aimed to explore which psychosocial behaviors are essential, the process of how these might influence coaching practice, and how the development of psychosocial behaviors should be encouraged. Eight elite, experienced S&C coaches were recruited and partook in a semistructured interview. Using a reflexive thematic analysis, six themes were identified: understanding athlete’s needs, communicating effectively, caring and connecting with the athlete, practicing what you preach, the importance of reflective practice, and the contribution of formal training. The findings of this study enhance the literature by highlighting that elite, experienced S&C coaches perceive psychosocial behaviors to be essential in effective S&C coaching practice. In particular, the findings describe the processes of how identified psychosocial behaviors might positively influence athlete development by enhancing motivation, buy-in, and autonomy. In addition, the authors’ results suggest that current S&C coach development programs are limited in facilitating the learning of psychosocial behaviors. Thus, their findings strengthen the call for S&C coach educators to utilize constructivist learning strategies including facilitated reflection to encourage the development of essential psychosocial behaviors that contribute to the holistic development of the athlete.

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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.