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How Do Coaches Operationalise Long-Term Technical Training in Elite Golf?

Steven Orr, Howie J. Carson, and Andrew Cruickshank

Long-term training is a common approach within the applied setting for components of physiology and strength and conditioning, for example. However, less is known about the reality of training across similar timescales from a technical perspective. Taking the highly technical sport of golf, current research rarely considers coaching technique beyond a single session or with the aim to understand the reality for, or challenges faced by, coaches working at the elite level. Accordingly, this qualitative study explored the goals, structure, and methods of coaches’ long-term technical work with players at macro-, meso-, and microlevels. Findings revealed that (a) coaches attempted to undertake technical refinement with players but without a clear systematic process, (b) there is little coherence and consistency across the levels of work, (c) the process and timescales of technical work are considered unpredictable and uncertain, and (d) long-term planning is seen as subservient to meeting players’ immediate performance needs. These results highlight the complexity of long-term technical work at the elite level and the need for coaches to develop both a sound and clear rationale through a more comprehensive case conceptualisation process, as well as a greater alignment to the scientific literature, to advance future practice.

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Metacognition and Professional Judgment and Decision Making in Coaching: Importance, Application and Evaluation

Loel Collins, Howie J. Carson, and Dave Collins

Previous research has emphasised the dynamic nature of coaching practice and the need to consider both individual performer needs and necessary contextual trade-offs in providing optimum solutions. In this regard, a Professional Judgment and Decision Making framework has been suggested to facilitate an optimum blend of actions against these complex and dynamic demands. Accordingly, we extend this work and address recent calls for greater focus on expertise-oriented assessments, by postulating on the aspirant/developing coach’s capacity for and development of metacognition (i.e., active control over cognitive processes) as a ‘tool’ within the reflective process. Specifically, we propose that metacognition enables essential active cognitive processing for deep learning and impactful application, together with construction and refinement of useable knowledge to inform coaching decisions. Metacognition, therefore, helps to contextualise knowledge provided in training, further optimising the experience, particularly before certification. Finally, we exemplify how metacognition can be developed in coaches through the use of cognitive apprenticeships and decision training tools; and evaluated via a series of observed coaching episodes, with reasoning articulated through pre and postsession interview. Despite challenging traditional competency-based approaches to coach education, we believe that a considered mixed approach represents a vital next step in further professionalising sports coaching.

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From the Lesson Tee to the Course: A Naturalistic Investigation of Attentional Focus in Elite Golf

Steven Orr, Andrew Cruickshank, and Howie J. Carson

While debate continues on “optimal” attentional focus, little empirical knowledge exists on the way that attention is operationalized across training and performance in elite golf. Accordingly, this study aimed to (a) explore the attentional foci promoted or used by coaches and players for different types of shots in training, plus their underpinning rationale and (b) explore the attentional foci promoted or used by coaches and players in competition, plus their underpinning rationale. Our findings revealed that (a) various foci were used across training and competition; (b) all players used different combinations of foci across training and competition, and within different aspects of training itself (e.g., short vs. long game); and (c) players often used alternative or additional foci in training to those promoted by coaches, and self-generated foci for competition. These results highlight the complexity and practical reality that needs to underpin future advances in theory, research, and practice.

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Seeing Double? A Practice-Based Investigation Into Twins Experiences of Sporting Talent Development

Robin D. Taylor, Howie J. Carson, and Dave Collins

Although there is an established body of research on twins within the wider social science domain, scarce attention has been applied to this relationship within sport coaching practice. Specifically, this is apparent during talent development, despite a growing empirical interest toward the developmental impact of age-gapped siblings on sporting success. Accordingly, this study explored potential mechanisms through which the twin relationship may impact on talent development. Longitudinal observation of two twin sets (one monozygotic and one dizygotic) took place within a U.K. regional hockey performance center training environment. Observations were used to inform semistructured interviews with twins and their parents, which facilitated the interpretation of observations and exploration of the relationship, before a codebook thematic analysis was conducted. Findings revealed several themes (regularity of interaction, emotional interpersonal skills, rivalry, skill development, communication, and type of separation) consistent with previous studies, alongside two new themes; namely, conflict and identity. The study highlights the complex and individualized nature of the sibling subsystem, illuminating the possible impact of twin type on several themes, and highlights the potential for observations as a practice-based tool for coaches to consider when individualizing the talent development process.