To develop our understanding about how learning theory can help to make sense of and inform the facilitation of player learning, this article presents a fictitious discussion, which takes place following a postgraduate sports coaching lecture on learning theories, pedagogy and practice. Following the lecture, Coach Educator (CE) joins two group members for a coffee to listen to their thoughts, experiences, and coaching practices in relation to pertinent player learning theory. Behaviourist Coach (BC) discusses his approach to coaching and how he has come to coach in this way; and his practices that conform to behaviourist learning theory. When BC has finished sharing his views and practices, CE then invites the other student to contribute to the discussion. Constructivist Coach (CC) recognises that his philosophical beliefs about the facilitation of player learning are vastly different to those of BC. As such, CC decides to share his approach to coaching, which aligns itself with constructivist learning theory. It is hoped that this dialogue will not only further theorise the facilitation of player learning, but do so in a way that helps coaching practitioners make the connection between learning theory and coaching practice.
Paul Potrac and Robyn. L Jones
This paper seeks to illuminate the micropolitical strategies that Gavin (a pseudonym) used in an attempt to persuade the players, the assistant coach, and the chairman at Erewhon City Football (soccer) Club to “buy into” his coaching program and methods. Data for the study were collected through in-depth, semistructured interviews, and a reflective log relating to those interviews. The interviews were transcribed verbatim with the subsequent transcripts being subject to a process of inductive analysis. Ball’s (1987) micropolitical perspective, Kelchtermans’ and Ballet’s (2002a, 2002b) work on micropolitical literacy, and Goffman’s (1959) writings on the presentation of the self, are used to make theoretical sense of the specific strategies used by Gavin in an attempt to persuade the players to see the merits of his coaching.
Tania Cassidy, Paul Potrac, and Alex McKenzie
The aim of this paper is twofold. The first purpose is to report on participant coaches’ perceptions of a theory-based coach education program (known as the CoDe program). The second purpose is to discuss how we, as coach educators, reflected on the initiation of the CoDe program. In evaluating the coach education program, semistructured interviews were conducted with eight rugby union coaches. Three themes emerged from the interviews: (a) thinking about athletes as learners, (b) focusing on the process of coaching, and (c) the value of talking with other coaches. Fullan’s (1991a) notion of curriculum change frames our discussion of the participant coaches’ evaluations and our reflections on the initiation of the CoDe program.
Martin Roderick, Andy Smith, and Paul Potrac
Luke Oldridge, Lee Nelson, Kenny Greenough, and Paul Potrac
This paper examines how the learning biography of Jack (pseudonym), an experienced track and field athletics coach, shaped his thoughts about coaching practice. Data were collected through seven in-depth, semistructured, narrative-biographical interviews that formed part of a cyclical and iterative data analysis process. Our analysis of Jack’s narrative revealed how his understanding of two distinct features of his coaching practice (i.e., implementation of periodization and pedagogical delivery style) developed in contrasting ways. Jack’s story was primarily, although not exclusively, interpreted using Alheit’s concepts of biographical learning and biographicity, Biesta and Tedder’s writings on agency and learning in the life-course, and Jarvis’ discussion of learning as a process of becoming. The findings of this study raise significant questions for how the field of sports coaching seeks to understand coach learning.
Paul A. Potrac, Edward T. Hall, and Adam J. Nichol
This interpretive study provides original insights into the socioemotional experiences that contributed to referee attrition in English grassroots football. Data were generated using an online survey (n = 251) and in-depth interviews (n = 20) with former referees. Using complementary symbolic interactionist and relational conceptualizations of identity, social interaction, and emotional pain, the analysis addressed the participants’ interpretations of their problematic encounters with the various significant others (e.g., coaches, managers, players, spectators, and administrators) that comprised their respective social networks in grassroots football. Importantly, the participants described several emotionally painful issues related to match day environments, disciplinary proceedings, and deployment and development processes that simultaneously coexisted alongside and exacerbated one another. The findings present important implications for those individuals and governing bodies who are responsible for referee retention.
Lee Nelson, Paul Potrac, David Gilbourne, Ashley Allanson, Laura Gale, and Phil Marshall
This paper aimed to shed light on the emotional nature of practice in coaching. In particular, this article was designed to explore the relationship between emotion, cognition, and behavior in the coaching context, through a narrative exploration of Zach’s (a pseudonym) experiences as the head coach of a semiprofessional soccer team. Data for this study were collected through a series of in-depth semistructured interviews that were transcribed verbatim and subject to inductive analysis. Two embracing categories were identified in the interview data. The first demonstrated how Zach frequently concealed his true emotions and enacted others in an attempt to achieve his desired ends. The second highlighted how Zach’s past experiences as a player had influenced how he wished to portray himself to his squad, and, importantly, helped him to sympathize with the thoughts and feelings of his players. Here, Lazarus and Folkman’s (1986) cognitive appraisal theory, Denzin’s (1984) writings on understanding emotions, and Hochschild’s (1983) work on emotional labor were used to offer one suggested, but not conclusive, reading of the emotional aspects of Zach’s practice.
Laura A. Gale, Ben A. Ives, Paul A. Potrac, and Lee J. Nelson
This study addressed the issue of interpersonal trust and distrust in the (sporting) workplace. Data were generated through cyclical, in-depth interviews with 12 community sports coaches. The interview transcripts were subjected to emic and etic readings, with Hardin and Cook’s theorization of (dis)trust and Goffman’s dramaturgical writings providing the primary heuristic devices. Our analysis produced three interconnected themes. These were a) how the participants’ decision to (dis)trust contextual others was based on their perceptions of encapsulated interests, b) those strategies that the participants employed to judge the trustworthiness of colleagues, and c) how the participants’ workplace bonds with coworkers differed according to their perceived trustworthiness. Importantly, this study revealed how interpersonal (dis)trust for these individuals was informed by the pursuit of various professional interests, uncertainty regarding continued employment and career progression, and was subject to ongoing strategic interaction and reflection. Based on these findings, we believe there is much to gain from the micro-level exploration of “how” and “why” sports workers seek to negotiate and manage workplace relationships.
Adam J. Nichol, Philip R. Hayes, Will Vickery, Emma Boocock, Paul Potrac, and Edward T. Hall
Social structure remains an equivocal term in (sport) sociology. Our understandings of its constitution and role in causally influencing behavior are arguably underdeveloped. Using a critical realist approach, this paper examined how structural entities and reflexive agency combined to influence behavior in an elite youth cricket context (e.g., athletes, coaches). A methodological bricolage was used to generate data and Elder-Vass’s theorizing provided the principal heuristic device. The analysis illustrated how coaches acted on behalf of norm circles in their attempts to shape dispositions of athletes. In turn, athletes engaged in a process of dialectical iteration between reflexive deliberation and (intersectional) dispositions, which influenced their social action in this organizational context. This study holds significance for researchers and practitioners concerned with social influence.