Coaches’ acquisition of sport science knowledge and the role of education providers

KINGSBURY, Damian (2022). Coaches’ acquisition of sport science knowledge and the role of education providers. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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The aims of this thesis were to better understand how coaches perceived and accessed sport science knowledge and to determine the role of National Governing Bodies (NGBs) and further and higher education (FHE) in facilitating coach training and education in sport science. Additionally, studies sought to identify any barriers to more effective access and implementation to such knowledge within this population. Firstly, adopting a loosely structured interview approach, eight expert sport coaches were interviewed about their perceptions of sport science knowledge and practice. Thematic analysis of the interviews revealed three first-order themes; knowledge acquisition (KA), knowledge translation (KT), and qualities of practitioners and coaches (QPC). Formal methods of KA included Higher Education and National Governing Body (NGB) training, whilst blind faith and mentoring were both revealed to be sources of informal KA. Conceding advantage and complexity of language (de-jargonising) were both revealed to be barriers to KT, whilst the use of virtual learning environments and traditional workshops were both favoured as means to disseminate and translate knowledge. Opportunity, research lag and accessibility, and casual employment were all identified as barriers to successful KT. The most valued QPC in practitioners were expertise, knowledge of the sport, building rapport and humility, whilst an open mindset and clarity of performance objectives were identified for coaches. Much of the findings from the first study corroborate previous research examining coach training and education and the salient characteristics of sport science practitioners that support successful translation of knowledge into sport coaching practice. In addition, these expert coaches displayed features of adaptive expertise in their decision-making and approaches to sourcing new knowledge. To understand these results in the professional domain, a larger sample of sport coaches was surveyed on the location of sport science topics and disciplines in coach training and education, actual and preferred sources of knowledge, and the role and function of FHE, NGBs and Continued Professional Development (CPD) in coach development. A mixture of mostly non-formal, online methods were identified as popular actual sources of sport science knowledge, whilst informal methods were the most popular preferred source. This may be in part owing to COVID-19 restrictions, but also substantiates previous research investigating learning in sport coaching. Sport psychology and skill acquisition were rated the most important sport science disciplines, with a number of statistical differences observed between routine (Level 1 and 2) and adaptive (Level 3 and 4) experts in the level of importance placed on key sport science topics. No differences were observed between expertise level and location of these topics in the coaching curriculum. A number of recommendations are made in accordance with recent policy initiatives to re-evaluate and professionalise sport coaching in the UK.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Purvis, Alison [0000-0002-3581-4990]
Additional Information: Director of studies: Dr. Alison Purvis
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2022 15:25
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 15:18

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