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Scott Rathwell and Bradley W. Young

Evidence suggests Canadian university sport programs can foster positive development. Further, university coaches have claimed to focus on their athletes’ personal and psychosocial development. Despite coaches’ claims, little is known about university coaches’ strategies for enhancing positive development. The aim of the present study was to explore the role of the coach in fostering positive development in the university context from the perspective of coaches. Specifically, this study addressed two research questions: (a) Who was responsible for athletes’ development? and (b) What is the role of the coach in athletes’ development? Semi-structured open-ended interviews were conducted with 14 recommended Canadian university coaches (9 male and 5 female). Interviews were analyzed using an inductive approach. Coaches highlighted the conditions of university sport that foster positive development. In addition, the coaches described how they maximized athletes’ development by establishing a support network, building team culture, and empowering athletes.

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Bettina Callary, Scott Rathwell and Bradley W. Young

Masters Athletes (MAs; adult athletes typically over 35 years old who prepare in order to compete at levels ranging from very recreational competition to serious competition) want coaches to cater their approaches to working with adults. Using adult learning principles, we previously found that some coaches cater their approaches in ways to accommodate the manner in which adult athletes prefer to learn. The purpose of this article is to articulate swim coaches’ perceptions of how they learned to work with MAs and whether their formal coach training meets their needs related to coaching MAs. Eleven swim coaches were interviewed regarding how they learned to coach MAs, and were questioned specifically about their coach development broadly and coach education specifically. The data were thematically analyzed and results revealed six main learning sources: coaching experiences (e.g., interacting with MAs, reflection, advice from MAs, coaching youth), experience as an athlete, reading books and Internet searches, networks and mentors, formal coach education, and non-swimming experiences. Results also revealed key themes about coaches’ perceptions regarding coach education, specifically the lack of connection between coach education programs and the Masters sport context, and coaches’ interest in coach education specific to MAs.

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Bettina Callary, Scott Rathwell and Bradley W. Young

Coaches working with Masters Athletes (MAs) are tasked with facilitating learning and enhancing performance and quality of experience specifically for an adult cohort. In education, the Andragogy in Practice Model (APM) characterizes adult learners and provides teachers with principles for how to best facilitate learning (Knowles, Holton III, & Swanson, 2012). The purpose of the current study was to explore how coaches describe approaches with their MAs to discover how they align with andragogical principles. Eleven coaches were interviewed regarding their approaches in working with Masters swimmers. Data were thematically analyzed according to the six APM principles. The results revealed the bidirectional pattern of communication between the coaches and MAs, the coaches’ awareness of the athletes’ matured self-concept and prior experiences, the personalized goal oriented approach, the various approaches coaches used to motivate, and strategies that the coaches used to prepare MAs for training. The findings suggest that coaches who reported approaches in keeping with andragogical principles more effectively accommodated their MAs’ interests. When their approaches countered the principles, there appeared to be a disconnect between the coaches’ approaches and the MAs’ preferences. Together, these results provide evidence of the importance of coaches’ understanding of adult learning principles when coaching MAs.

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Michael Carter, Scott Rathwell and Diane Ste-Marie

Investigations into the strategies that are used by participants when they control their knowledge of results (KR) schedule during practice have predominantly relied on multiple-choice questionnaires. More recently, open-ended questions have been used to allow participants to produce their own descriptions rather than selecting a strategy from a predetermined list. This approach has in fact generated new information about the cognitive strategies used by learners to request KR during practice (e.g., Laughlin et al., 2015). Consequently, we examined strategy use in self-controlled KR learning situations using open-ended questions at two different time points during practice. An inductive thematic content analysis revealed five themes that represented participants’ unique strategies for requesting KR. This analysis identified two dominant KR strategies: “establish a baseline understanding” in the first half of practice and “confirm a perceived good trial” in the second half of practice. Both strategies were associated with superior retention compared with a yoked group, a group that was unable to engage in KR request strategies because KR was imposed rather than chosen. Our results indicate that the learning advantages of self-controlled KR schedules over yoked schedules may not only depend on what strategy is used, but also when it is used.

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Scott Rathwell, Gordon A. Bloom and Todd M. Loughead

The purpose of the study was to gain an in-depth understanding of the characteristics head coaches looked for when hiring their head assistant coach, the main roles and responsibilities assigned to assistants, and the techniques and behaviors used to develop them. Data were obtained through interviews with six accomplished Canadian University head football coaches. Results indicated head coaches hired loyal assistants who possessed extensive football knowledge that complimented their own skill sets. Once hired, head coaches had their assistant coaches help them with recruiting, managing a major team unit, and developing athletes. They helped advance their assistants’ careers through personal mentorships which included exposure to external sources of knowledge such as football camps and coaching conferences. These results represent one of the first empirical accounts of head coaches’ perceptions on hiring and developing head assistant coaches.

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Martin Camiré, Kelsey Kendellen, Scott Rathwell and Evelyne Felber Charbonneau

Many forms of mainstream coach education continue to sparingly address content specifically related to positive youth development and/or life skills, instead maintaining a focus on the technical and tactical aspects of sport. The purpose of the paper is to present the evaluation findings of the pilot implementation of the Coaching for Life Skills program, designed to serve coaches operating in the context of high school sport. The study qualitatively explored what participants believed they experienced during their participation in the Coaching for Life Skills program, which was delivered to 68 Canadian high school coaches. Participants took part in one of six three-hour workshop (i.e., three workshops in English, three workshops in French). Of these 68 coaches, 10 voluntarily agreed to take part in individual semi-structured interviews. Findings demonstrated how the participants believed they learned important elements related to the coaching of life skills, particularly in terms of increasing their awareness of life skills, improving coach-athlete relationships, and employing coaching strategies that deliberately target life skills development and transfer.

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Stéphanie Turgeon, Kelsey Kendellen, Sara Kramers, Scott Rathwell and Martin Camiré

The practice of high school sport is, in large part, justified based on the premise that participation exposes student-athletes to an array of situations that, when experienced positively, allow them to learn and refine the life skills necessary to become active, thriving, and contributing members of society. The purpose of this paper is to examine how we can maximize the developmental potential of high school sport and make it impactful. Extant literature suggests that high school sport participation exposes student-athletes to a variety of experiences that can positively and negatively influence their personal development, with coaches playing a particularly influential role in this developmental process. However, within this body of evidence, issues of research quality have been raised, limiting the inferences that can be drawn. Future research directions are presented that address methodological limitations. Furthermore, in efforts to (re)consider the desired impact of high school sport, a critical discussion with policy and practical implications is offered.