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Reflection in a High-Performance Sport Coach Education Program: A Foucauldian Analysis of Coach Developers

Lauren Downham and Christopher Cushion

Reflection is a contested but taken for granted concept, whose meaning shifts to accommodate the interpretation and interests of those using the term. Subsequently, there is limited understanding of the concept. The purpose of this article was to consider critically the discursive complexities of reflection and their articulation through coach developers’ practice. Data were collected from a National High-Performance coach education program. Coach developers responsible for one-to-one support (n = 8) and on-program support (n = 3) participated in the research. Semistructured interviews were conducted with coach developers, and participant observations were undertaken of a coach developer forum and program workshops (n = 9). Foucault’s concepts: power, discourse, and discipline were used to examine data with critical depth. Analysis explored “Discourse of Reflection,” “Discipline, Power, and Reflection,” and “Coach Developers: Confession, ‘Empowerment,’ and Reflection.” Humanistic ideas constructed a discourse of reflection that was mobilized through coach confession. Coach developer efforts to be “critical” and “learner centered” were embroiled with intrinsic and subtle relations of power as “empowering” intent exacerbated rather than ameliorated its exercise. This article makes visible a different destabilized and problematized version of reflection, thus introducing an awkwardness into the fabric of our experiences of reflection.

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Layers of Learning in Coach Developers’ Practice-Theories, Preparation and Delivery

Anna Stodter and Christopher J. Cushion

Despite the centrality of coach developers to formal coach education settings, only a handful of studies have begun to touch upon the role they play in mediating quality learning, while links between different layers of learning and impact on coach learners remains underexplored. This research explored English coach developers’ understanding of learning, and the learning frameworks taught to them, through unstructured interviews and participant observation of a generic coach developer training course. Three coach developers were observed delivering formal coach education, to elucidate how understanding was applied in practice. Supporting interviews with 16 coaches attending the course gave an indication of reactions to developers’ practice. Combined layers of data were analysed using a three-phase integrated analytic process. In the absence of pertinent evidence-informed coach developer training course design and delivery, implicit ‘practice-theories’, based on participants’ experiences as coaches and coach developers, appeared to inform understanding and practices. Despite acknowledging ‘learner centred’ learning principles, coach developers experienced challenges implementing these in practice and coach learners perceived confusion and contradictions. Findings are discussed in relation to contemporary ideas around coaches’ and coach developers’ learning, to highlight potential ways that coach developers could be more effectively prepared and supported.

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Power, Discourse, and Symbolic Violence in Professional Youth Soccer: The Case of Albion Football Club

Christopher Cushion and Robyn L. Jones

A sociological analysis was conducted into the collective nature of coaching as manifest in the triangular interaction between coach, athlete, and context within English professional youth soccer. The work of Pierre Bourdieu is predominantly used to interpret data collected ethnographically over the course of a 10-month season. Findings show how an authoritarian discourse is established and maintained, how it is structured by and subsequently structures the coaching context, and how accompanying behaviors are misrecognized as legitimate by both coaches and players. We conclude by reflecting on the limits of such work and its implications for future coaching education.

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Reflection in Coach Education: The Case of the National Governing Body Coaching Certificate

Lee J. Nelson and Christopher J. Cushion

Research frequently demonstrates that coaches learn by reflecting on practical coaching experience (Gilbert & Trudel, 2001), hence both reflection and experience have been identified as essential elements of coach education (Cushion, Armour, & Jones, 2003). The case being studied was a United Kingdom (UK) National Governing Body (NGB) in the process of developing a coach education program. The purpose of this study was to empirically explore the use of reflection as a conceptual underpinning to connect and understand coach education, theory, and practice. Findings suggest that the curriculum could promote reflective practice, albeit in a largely decontextualized learning environment. Future research should attempt to directly measure, in situ, the impact of such courses on coaching knowledge and coaching practice.