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Kristen D. Dieffenbach and Valerie Wayda

Among the physical activity, exercise and health related academic disciplines, coaching education remains an under-developed field. Once closely aligned with physical education, coaching education has remained practically immobile despite the activity and growth in the related functional fitness and sport performance fields of exercise and sport sciences such as sport pedagogy, exercise physiology, and sport and exercise psychology. This article provides a historical context for the evolution of the academic discipline of coaching education within the broader field of physical education and a brief overview of coaching education as it exists within academia today. Recommendations and suggestions are made for the future growth and development of the coaching education discipline.

Open access

Melissa A. Murray, Rebecca Zakrajsek and Kristen D. Dieffenbach

Schempp, McCullick and Mason (2006) suggested gaining hands-on experience is the key element of coach development and the process of becoming a professional expert in the field. Cushion, Armour, and Jones (2003) also recommend the opportunity to observe more experienced coaches as a key experience in novice coach’s development. At the collegiate level in the U.S., a model similar to scholastic teacher training is the foundation for academic-based coaching education programs that seek to combine classroom-based education with experiential learning. In these programs student coaches are generally required to participate in field internship experiences in order to develop a strong art- and science-based approach to coaching. This internship experience is one of great importance, especially since expert coaches have identified having a quality mentor relationship early in their career as essential to their development as a coach (Nash & Sproule, 2009).

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Anna-Marie C. Jaeschke, Michael L. Sachs and Kristen D. Dieffenbach

Ultramarathon running entails coping with unanticipated environmental circumstances and intense physical and psychological fatigue; a sport in which the role of mental toughness can be crucial. This research focused on semistructured interviews with 12 ultramarathon runners who volunteered to discuss their perceptions of mental toughness. The data allowed researchers to gather a multidimensional view of mental toughness from ultramarathon runners’ experiences and perspective in addition to providing a snapshot of the challenges and demands ultrarunners face, as well as ethical concerns associated with athletes pushing themselves beyond their limits. Central themes included: perseverance/persistence, overcoming adversity, perspective, life experience, psychological skills use, and camaraderie in the ultra community. A deeper understanding of mental toughness obtained from a sample of ultramarathon runners can inform consultants working to improve quality or consistency of performance, and become aware of ethical concerns of encouraging athletes to exceed perceptual or actual limitations.

Open access

Kristen D. Dieffenbach, Larry Lauer and Dennis A. Johnson

Ethical concerns regarding fair play, coach athlete relationships, use of ergogenic aids, and the power dynamic inherent in coaching have been raised by those inside and outside the profession. Standards of coaching behavior and written coaching ethics are a part of most youth through elite level sport organizations. For example, the ethics code of the National Federation of High Schools and the U.S. Olympic Code of Ethics for Coaches are posted on the organization websites. Unfortunately, the “sticky” or gray situations that occur in real life often are not clearly covered in coaching ethical codes. The pressure to make decisions for reasons other than “right thing to do” is immense. These situations often do not have a straightforward answer, and the skills necessary to navigate the gray areas are often underdeveloped. This presentation discusses three approaches to teaching and reinforcing ethical thinking and problem-solving skills within different coaching education models. Best practices for teaching ethical guidelines both in and out of the coaching education classroom are discussed, and an emphasis is placed on the role of coaching education in teaching the skills critical for positive coach behavior.